The Heineken Cup, Europe's premier club rugby tournament celebrates its 13th anniversary in the 2007/08 season. From humble beginnings in 1995 the tournament, organised by ERC, has grown into one of the world's most popular rugby tournaments and annually feature 24 elite teams from six countries.
'WELCOME to the most exciting and positive development in club rugby in the Northern Hemisphere. I believe the inauguration of the European Rugby Cup by Five Nations Rugby will satisfy the needs and aspirations of clubs throughout Europe.
'It will present a fresh challenge to players and coaches, and one which they have been craving for some time, and it should also provide tens of thousands of fans with the spectacle of rugby at its best.'
Those were the words chosen by Ken Reid, the inaugural Tournament Director, in October, 1995, to introduce the European Rugby Cup to the world.
Within days the five nation, 12 team tournament had been renamed the Heineken Cup and one of rugby's greatest competitions was ready for the off.
The first game was played in Romania on Tuesday, 31 October, 1995, and since then the two tournaments - the Heineken Cup and the European Challenge Cup - have grown to encompass the cream of the clubs from eight nations.
The former England international Roger Pickering succeeded Ken Reid as the Tournament Director in June 1996 and the former Irish international Derek McGrath became European Rugby Cup Limited's first chief executive in July, 2000.
Watch IRB Total Rugby's Heineken Cup 10 year special.
In 2002 European Rugby Cup Limited became ERC and with that came a dynamic new identity.
The current chairman, the 47-times capped French centre Jean-Pierre Lux, took over his role from the former Ireland and Lions captain Tom Kiernan in April, 1999. ERC's Board of Directors has representatives from the rugby governing bodies and Clubs from the six nations of England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.
Together with his 11 fellow directors on the ERC Board, and the staff at ERC's Dublin headquarters, ERC is dedicated to achieving the mission of the company, which reads:
"To realise the potential of European club rugby, by pushing back boundaries, connecting stakeholders and creating matches of unique drama".
For more information on the history of the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup see the history sections under both tournaments.