Next season’s Champions Cup format confirmed

EPCR explain draw for the pools will be carried out on same lines as last season

Antoine Dupont, captain of Toulouse lifts the Champions Cup trophy at Twickenham. File photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Antoine Dupont, captain of Toulouse lifts the Champions Cup trophy at Twickenham. File photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

 

As expected, the tournament organisers EPCR have confirmed that next season’s Champions Cup will more or less follow the same format as eventually came into being for the 2020-21 campaign.

The 24 clubs, comprising of eight qualifiers each from the Premiership, the Pro14 and the Top 14, will be divided into two pools of 12 teams apiece.

Each participant will play four pool matches apiece, two at home and two away. The eight highest-ranked clubs from each pool will qualify for the knockout stage which will consist of a round of 16 on a home and away basis, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final in Marseille on May 28th 2022.

According to a statement by EPCR: “The draw for the pools will be carried out on the same lines as last season with the clubs separated into four tiers, and clubs from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn into the same pool.

“The number one and number two ranked clubs from each league will be in tier one, the number three and number four ranked clubs will be in tier two, the number five and six ranked clubs will be in tier three, and the number seven and number eight ranked clubs will be tier four.

“The tier one and the tier four clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away during the pool stage, as will the tier two and tier three clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league.”

As previously announced, EPCR is currently putting the finishing touches to a new shareholder agreement and discussions regarding the format for next season’s Challenge Cup, as well as both competitions for future seasons, are ongoing.

“These discussions include the future participation of South African clubs in EPCR’s tournaments as referenced recently by the United Rugby Championship.”

In a significant shift, The Irish Times understands that the respective unions, who previously had two members each on the EPCR board, will henceforth only have two in total under the new agreement, thereby affording more influence to the clubs and their representatives.

2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup qualifiers

Premiership: 1 Harlequins, 2 Exeter Chiefs, 3 Bristol Bears, 4 Sale Sharks, 5 Northampton Saints, 6 Leicester Tigers, 7 Bath Rugby, 8 Wasps

Pro14: 1 Leinster Rugby, 2 Munster Rugby, 3 Ulster Rugby, 4 Connacht Rugby, 5 Scarlets, 6 Ospreys, 7 Cardiff Rugby, 8 Glasgow Warriors

Top 14: 1 Stade Toulousain, 2 Stade Rochelais, 3 Racing 92, 4 Union Bordeaux-Bègles, 5 ASM Clermont Auvergne, 6 Stade Français Paris, 7 Castres Olympique, 8 Montpellier Hérault Rugby

Key dates

Round 1 - 10/11/12th December

Round 2 - 17/18/19thDecember

Round 3 - 14/15/16th January 2022

Round 4 - 21st/22nd/23rd January 2022

Round of 16 (1st leg) - 8/9/10th April 2022

Round of 16 (2nd leg) - 15/16/17th April 2022

Quarter-finals - 6/7/8th May 2022

Semi-finals - 13/14/15th May 2022

Challenge Cup final - Friday May 27th 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille

Champions Cup final - Saturday May 28th 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille

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