Channel 4 launches Heineken Champions Cup coverage

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Channel 4 has announced the on-air line-up that will present its free-to-air coverage of the Heineken Champions Cup.

The broadcaster will show one live match from each round of European club rugby union’s most prestigious tournament including one quarter-final, a semi-final and the final, marking the return of the competition to terrestrial screens for the first time in 15 years.

Lee McKenzie will present Channel 4’s live coverage and she will be joined by a range of top names from the world of rugby union.

These include World Cup and two-time European Cup winner Bryan Habana, Six Nations and three-time Heineken Cup winner Jamie Heaslip, Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas who lifted the trophy with Toulouse in 2005 and Women’s Rugby World Cup winner Emily Scarratt.

Miles Harrison will lead Channel 4’s match commentary team, acclaimed international referee Nigel Owens will add his unique insight to the coverage, while former Dragons forward Ed Jackson will be Channel 4’s specialist reporter.

To compliment Channel 4’s live matches, Ayo Akinwolere and Lee McKenzie will present an hour-long preview programme – The Big Tackle – which will go out in the build-up to each live match.

The first show will review Friday night’s tournament opener between reigning champions Leinster and Wasps before looking ahead to the rest of the weekend’s action.

It will also include a special feature on Channel 4 reporter Ed Jackson, who will detail how his life changed 18 months ago having broken his neck diving into a swimming pool and the hard journey of recovery he has been on ever since.

The Big Tackle will also preview key clashes from all the pools as well as featuring player video diaries, interviews, special features and behind-the-scenes insights, including player video diarists Billy Vunipola of Saracens and Racing 92’s Simon Zebo, as well as featuring Gareth Thomas who will talk about winning the Heineken Cup with Toulouse in 2005 and life beyond rugby.

Channel 4 has secured the rights to broadcast one live match from each round of the Heineken Champions Cup, ensuring European club rugby is broadcast on free-to-air television until 2022.

The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup feature clubs which have qualified on merit from their respective domestic leagues – the Aviva Premiership, the TOP 14 and the Guinness PRO14, with the latter also featuring two qualifiers from the Continental Shield.

Clubs in this elite tournament includes the likes of Saracens, Leinster, Bath, Scarlets, Toulon, Clermont, Exeter Chiefs, Glasgow, Munster and Gloucester.

Channel 4’s live coverage of the pool stages will air during October, December and January, with the knockout stages starting in April.

Commenting on its coverage, Channel 4 Commissioning Editor Joe Blake-Turner said:

“We’re delighted to welcome back elite European Club rugby to terrestrial television for the first time in 15 years.

“Two former tournament winners kick off our coverage and in the following rounds we’ll be bringing viewers the cream of European rugby.”

BT Sport remains the principal broadcaster of the Heineken Champions Cup and will broadcast every match from the competition live across its channels for the next four seasons. In addition, BT Sport will also show selected matches from the European Rugby Challenge Cup throughout the season.

For more information about the Heineken Champions Cup, visit the official EPCR website – epcrugby.com.

SATURDAY 13th OCTOBER

Bath v Toulouse
Heineken Champions Cup: Round 1

13:00

SATURDAY 20th OCTOBER

Munster v Gloucester
Heineken Champions Cup: Round 2

13:00

SATURDAY 8th DECEMBER

Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester
Heineken Champions Cup: Round 3

13:00

SATURDAY 15th DECEMBER

Cardiff Blues v Saracens
Heineken Champions Cup: Round 4

13:00

SATURDAY 12th JANUARY

Leinster v Toulouse
Heineken Champions Cup: Round 5

13:00

18-20 JANUARY

Match TBC
Heineken Champions Cup: Round 6

TBC

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