The governing body that gave the rugby playing world one if its greatest innovations, the Heineken Cup, in 1995, and then the Amlin Challenge Cup the following year, is into its 15th season in charge of pan-European club rugby.
And to celebrate that achievement ERC is planning a season of celebrations which will culminate in a special awards initiative. So, who do you think has been the greatest European player over the past 14 years? What was the best game and who has given the greatest contribution to the rise of arguably the greatest phenomena in the professional game?
The English clubs, like the Scots, may not have jumped in right at the start, leaving the inaugural season of the Heineken Cup to be contested by 12 teams from Ireland, Wales, France, Italy and Romania, but it didn't take long for the Premiership sides to make their mark.
What the two European tournaments did was resurrect many of the traditional cross-border rivalries that had fallen by the wayside with the advent of league rugby in the late eighties. More than that, they breathed new life into the professional game and gave the new band of professionals an ultimate challenge.
Just as Real Madrid lit up football's European Cup when it was launched in the fifties, so Toulouse and Leicester Tigers grabbed rugby's European concept by the throat and extended their already considerable reputations as a result. European competition quickly became northern hemisphere rugby's new frontier and 254 players have earned the right to call themselves Heineken Cup winners since Emile Ntamack lifted the trophy for Toulouse at Cardiff Arms Park on a Sunday afternoon in January in 1996.
Among that list of legends are players from 16 different nationalities, with 72 Englishmen just leading the way from the Irish. It is a similar story in the Amlin Challenge Cup, where there are 103 English winners among the 254 players who have ended on winning sides.
Given there are two seasons when the English clubs didn't take part - they boycotted both tournaments in 1998/99 - it shows how strong the English contribution towards the advance of professional rugby in Europe has been.
For instance, after early French dominance in the Challenge Cup, when the first four finals were all-French affairs, there has been an English team in the final for the past nine seasons. Better than that, eight times the trophy has come back to England, including a victory by Northampton Saints over Bourgoin last season.
Sale Sharks and Harlequins have won the Challenge Cup twice and London Wasps, Bath and Northampton Saints have distinguished themselves by winning both the Challenge Cup and the Heineken Cup.
It was Bath, albeit led by a Scotsman and bolstered by three Welshmen and an American, who finally broke the French stranglehold on the European silverware when they pipped reigning champions Brive 19-18 in the 1998 final in Bordeaux. Where the west countrymen led, Northampton Saints (2000), Leicester Tigers (2001, 2002) and London Wasps (2004, 2007) have since followed to give the English clubs an incredible return of six Heineken Cup titles in the 12 seasons they have taken part in the tournament.
Great moments for those clubs inspired by some inspirational players. Jonathan Callard grabbed all 15 points for Bath in Bordeaux, Leon Lloyd skipped away for two tries for the Tigers in Paris in 2001 and the irrepressible Austin Healey inspired a second Leicester win at the Millennium Stadium the following year.
Welsh scrum half Rob Howley literally stole the show for Wasps at Twickenham in 2004 when he dived at the feet of Clement Poitrenaud to score the try that gave the Londoners their first title and French legend Raphael Ibanez conjured up a cheeky front of the line-out try in the 2007 final in front of a then world record club crowd of 81,076 Twickenham in 2007 to give them a second crown.
The last two years have been dominated by the Irish, with mighty Munster winning their second title in 2008 and Leinster taking centre stage at Murrayfield in May this year. The Irish contribution to the tournament has been immense and any game against Munster, Leinster or Ulster, who so famously won the tournament in 1999, is not only a battle on the field, but a delight off it.
What ERC has been able to create through its two tournaments in an incredibly short space of time has completely changed the landscape of professional rugby in Europe. Both competitions have provided unforgettable moments, enhanced reputations of clubs and players alike and given everyone in the game something to look forward to.
Vive la difference!
Get involved in ERC 15
* Why not send us your favourite European rugby moment. What is the best game you've been to, the greatest try you've seen scored or the most influential performance you've seen from a player in either the Heineken Challenge Cup?
Send us your thoughts and we'll put them up on the ERC 15 section of the official ERC website.
Cllick here and send us your suggestions - mark the subject line / nature of feedback ERC 15
THE HEINEKEN CUP FINALS
|2008/09||Leinster 19 Leicester Tigers 16||Murrayfield||66523|
|2007/08||Munster 16 Toulouse 13||Millennium Stadium||74417|
|2006/07||Leicester Tigers 9 London Wasps 25||Twickenham||81076|
|2005/06||Biarritz Olympique 19 Munster 23||Millennium Stadium||74534|
|2004/05||Toulouse 18 (AET) Stade Français Paris 12||Murrayfield||51326|
|2003/04||London Wasps 27 Toulouse 20||Twickenham||73057|
|2002/03||Toulouse 22 Perpignan 17||Lansdowne Road||28600|
|2001/02||Leicester Tigers 15 Munster 9||Millennium Stadium||74600|
|2000/01||Leicester Tigers 34 Stade Français Paris 30||Parc des Princes||44000|
|1999/00||Northampton Saints 9 Munster 8||Twickenham||68441|
|1998/99||Ulster 21 Colomiers 6||Lansdowne Road||49000|
|1997/98||Bath 19 Brive 18||Stade Lescure||36500|
|1996/97||Brive 28 Leicester 9||Cardiff Arms Park||41664|
|1995/96||Toulouse 21 (AET) Cardiff 18||Cardiff Arms Park||21800|
Amlin Challenge Cup Finals
|2008/09||Northampton Saints 15-3 Bourgoin||Twickenham Stoop||9,260|
|2007/08||Bath 24-16 Worcester Warriors||Kingsholm Stadium||16,157|
|2006/07||ASM Clermont Auvergne 22-16 Bath||Twickenham Stoop||10,134|
|2005/06||Gloucester 36-34 (aet) London Irish||Twickenham Stoop||12,053|
|2004/05||Sale Sharks 27-3 Pau||Kassam Stadium||7,230|
|2003/04||NEC Harlequins 27-26 Montferrand||Madejski Stadium||13,123|
|2002/03||London Wasps 48-30 Bath||Madejski Stadium||18,074|
|2001/02||Sale Sharks 25-22 Pontypridd||Kassam Stadium||12,000|
|2000/01||NEC Harlequins 42-33 Narbonne||Madejski Stadium||10,013|
|1999/00||Pau 34-21 Castres||Des Sept Deniers, Toulouse||6,000|
|1998/99||Montferrand 35-16 Bourgoin||Stade de Gerland, Lyon||31,986|
|1997/98||Colomiers 43-5 Agen Des||Sept Deniers, Toulouse||12,500|
|1996/97||Bourgoin 18-9 Castres||Stade de la Méditerranée, Béziers||10,000|