The Heineken Champions Cup was first played in 1995-96, when it was known simply as the Heineken Cup. Back then, the format of the tournament was slightly different. Although the Five Nations Committee wanted to promote cross-border competition between teams, English and Scottish teams did not take part and Romanian and Italian teams joined the competition instead. However, English and Scottish teams did join the next year and, in 1997, a home and away pools format was introduced for the first time.
Over the next 15 years, the Heineken Cup continued as scheduled with only minor conflicts between competing nations. In 2014-15 though, Heineken’s title sponsorship of the tournament came to an end and the tournament officially became known as the European Champions Cup, or simply the European Cup. However, as the competition was popular, most fans still simply referred to the competition as the Heineken Cup.
This period coincided with one of the most controversial Heineken Cup finals in recent memory. In 2015, organisers moved the Heineken Cup final from the San Siro in Milan to Twickenham in London with only two weeks’ notice in an attempt to maximise revenue. When public uptake wasn’t great, tickets were sold for ‘free’ on Ticketmaster and only 8,000 French fans crossed the channel to watch the all-French final between Toulon and Clermont.