South Africa’s welcome pack to Europe: A look into the record books

Dylan Coetzee
Champions Cup: Split with Michalak, Ronan O'Gara and Chris Ashton

Planet Rugby continues the build-up to the dawn of a new era in club rugby that sees the Stormers, Bulls, and Sharks join Europe’s elite in the race for the pinnacle of the game at club level, the Champions Cup.

With the structure of the competition covered and the teams going into battle profiled, the next stage is to look at the record books

Current title holders

La Rochelle claimed their maiden Champions Cup title under the tutelage of Ronan O’Gara, who has a rich history in the competition as a player and now a coach.

The French side faced Leinster in a gruelling final that ended 24-21 at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille in front of just short of 60,000 fans. The Irish side were on course to add yet another Champions Cup to their four titles, but it was not to be as Arthur Retiere scored a late try, with Ihaia West converting, to snatch the victory in dramatic fashion.

Team with the most titles

Toulouse is the most successful team in the competition’s history, with a whopping five titles won by the club in the 1995/1996, 2002/03, 2004/05, 2009/10 and 2020/21 seasons.

The French giants add to their prolific record by being the first team to complete 100 wins in the competition’s history. Toulouse are well and truly European rugby royalty, and no doubt the team will be looking to add another star to their crest this season.

Top five all-time points scorers

O’Gara is the highest points scorer in the competition’s history with an outrageous 1,365 in the red of Munster, which is just short of 500 ahead of the second best Stephen Jones, who scored 869 for Scarlets and Clermont Auvergne.

England and Saracens star Owen Farrell sits in the third spot as the highest active player on the all-time list with 794, closely followed by veteran Johnny Sexton who has 782 for Leinster. Legendary France and Biarritz scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili rounds out the top five with 661 points.

Top five all-time try scorers

Try-scoring machine Chris Ashton tops the all-time try scorers list with 41 in the colours of Northampton Saints, Saracens, Toulon, Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers.

Former Toulouse speedster Vincent Clerc is in second with 36 for the French side, while Munster’s Simon Zebo is third on 34, just ahead of Juan Imhoff of Racing 92, who sits level on 33 tries with the great Brian O’Driscoll of Leinster.

Top five most appearances

O’Gara once again sits at the summit with a crazy 110 appearances for Munster in the Champions Cup, rounding out his impressive record in the competition.

Leinster great Gordon D’Arcy is second with 104 appearances, followed by Munster’s John Hayes with 101. Peter String is also on 101 caps, with the majority from his time at Munster but with appearances for Saracens, Bath and Sale Sharks to add.

Cian Healy of Leinster is the only active player in the top five, with a total of 97 appearances for the Irish outfit in the competition.

READ MORE: South Africa’s welcome pack to Europe: The teams heading into battle