There were 31 teams involved in the fifth edition of the tournament and the increasing competitiveness was proved by the fact no team went through their Pool unbeaten for the first time. This was also the season the French stranglehold on the competition was broken.
Although six of the eight Pools were won by French clubs, Newcastle and Harlequins, making their debut in the tournament, also reached the quarter-finals. London Irish would have joined them, but they suffered a one point penalty for fielding an ineligible player and lost out to Brive.
Two of the quarter-finals featured run-way wins for home teams, Newcastle scoring eight tries in their 61-23 triumph over Mont de Marsan, and Agen crossing the Beziers line four times in a 31-0 victory, but there were a few hearts in mouths in Narbonne and Brive.
It took a record equalling nine penalties from Cedric Rosalin to steer Narbonne to a 34-24 home win over Perpignan, for who Thierry Lacroix kicked eight penalties, while Will Greenwood came up with the vital try for Harlequins in a battling 20-13 win in Brive. That set-up an all-English semi-final against Newcastle in Leeds and ensured a place in the final for the first non-French team.
That honour fell to the Quins, who came from behind in the second half to beat Newcastle 17-12 and book their ticket to the final at the Madejski Stadium, Reading, against Alessandro Stoica's Narbonne side.
The Madejski Stadium at Reading was the venue for the most competitive final on record. Narbonne led 19-16 at half time, but the Quins hit back to level matters at 26-26 to send the game into extra-time. The boot of Irish outside half Paul Burke eventually guided the English Premiership side to a 42-33 victory as he ended with 27 points from six penalties, a drop goal and three conversions.