Leinster to receive top billing for Champions Cup draw

Defending champions will be in Tier 1 when the draw takes place on Wednesday June 20th

Leinster players celebrate with the Pro14 and Champions Cup trophies. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster players celebrate with the Pro14 and Champions Cup trophies. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Champions Cup and Pro 14 league winners Leinster along with Saracens and Castres are ensured a top seeding when the pool draw for the Heineken Champions Cup takes place in Lausanne, Switzerland on Wednesday June 20th.

The Heineken Cup final will take place in Newcastle United’s football ground, St James Park on May 11th 2019.

Twenty clubs from Premiership Rugby, the Pro14 and the Top 14 have qualified on merit with the clubs divided into four tiers of five teams.

A preliminary draw will be conducted to establish the Tier 1 clubs with two from Exeter Chiefs, Scarlets and Montpellier joining Leinster, Saracens and Castres to form the five top ranked clubs.

Once Tier 1 has been established, the remaining three tiers will fall into place.

Tier 2 will include the three third-ranked clubs from the leagues, Wasps, Glasgow Warriors and Racing 92 as well as the second-ranked club which was not drawn into Tier 1 and the fourth-ranked club from the same league as the club which was not drawn into Tier 1.

Tier 3 will include the two clubs ranked fourth which are not in Tier 2 as well as the three fifth-ranked clubs from each league – Leicester Tigers, Edinburgh Rugby and Toulouse.

Tier 4 is complete and contains the sixth-ranked clubs from each league – Bath Rugby, Challenge Cup winners, Cardiff Blues, and RC Toulon – as well as Ulster Rugby and Gloucester Rugby.

When the tiers are completed, the main draw for the five pools will be made.

Munster are currently ranked fourth in the Pro 14 league behind Leinster, Scarlets and Glasgow with Ulster taking the final seventh qualifying position.

Sale Sharks, Benetton Rugby and La Rochelle are confirmed among the Tier 1 clubs for the Challenge Cup draw which will be conducted on similar lines with four tiers and five pools.

Timisoara Saracens of Romania, who reached the penultimate stage of last season’s Continental Shield, will be included among the 20 competing clubs along with the Shield winners from Bilbao, Russia’s Enisei-STM.

The Pool draws will be done along key principles:

o The 20 clubs are divided into four tiers based on their qualifying positions from the leagues, or on other official qualification criteria. This will be done where necessary by a preliminary draw.

o The 20 clubs will then be drawn into five pools of four clubs each.

o Each pool will have at least one club from each of the three leagues.

o Each of the five pools will have one club from each of the four tiers.

o There will be no more than two clubs from the same league in a pool.

o No pool will contain two PRO14 clubs from the same country.

o Clubs from the same league will be kept apart until the allocation of the Tier 4 clubs.

o In the Challenge Cup draw, a club from the Continental Shield cannot be drawn into a pool which contains two TOP 14 clubs or two Premiership clubs.

EPCR key dates - 2018/19 season

Round 1: 12/13/14 October

Round 2: 19/20/21 October

Round 3: 7/8/9 December

Round 4: 14/15/16 December

Round 5: 11/12/13 January 2019

Round 6: 18/19/20 January 2019

Quarter-finals: 29/30/31 March 2019

Semi-finals: 19/20/21 April 2019

2019 Newcastle finals

Challenge Cup final: Friday May 10th, St James’ Park

Heineken Champions Cup final: Saturday May 11th, St James’ Park.

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