Champions Cup moving straight to knock-out stages, without Ulster and Connacht
In better news for the Irish provinces, Munster and Leinster are guaranteed home fixtures next.
A revised tournament format has been announced for the 2020/21 Champions and Challenge Cup competitions.
Both tournaments will resume on the weekend of April 2-4 and go straight into knock-out rugby. We start with a Round of 16 before continuing to quarter-finals, semi-finals and the scheduled Marseille finals on EPCR’s allocated weekends in April and May.
As approved by the EPCR Board, the Rounds of 16 and quarter-final matches in both tournaments will now be decided by draws which will take place on Tuesday, March 9.
Regarding the Champions Cup, the eight highest-ranked clubs in Pool A and the eight highest-ranked clubs in Pool B at the time of the suspension of the tournament have qualified for the Round of 16.
That means Leinster and Munster will be guaranteed home games in the Round of 16 but Connacht and Ulster are both out. An EPCR statement reads:
'For the purposes of the draw, clubs from the same league cannot be drawn against one another, however, clubs from either pool can be drawn against one another.
'A further agreed key principle of the Heineken Champions Cup draw will ensure that clubs which have won both pool stage matches on the pitch – ie. where results were not impacted by COVID-19 – will play at home in the Round of 16. Therefore, Racing 92, Leinster Rugby, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles and Munster Rugby will each be guaranteed a home fixture.
'The clubs which are not drawn against either Racing 92, Leinster, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles or Munster will have their opponents, and whether they will be playing at home or away, determined as part of the draw.'
2020/21 KNOCKOUT STAGE QUALIFIERS
Heineken Champions Cup
Racing 92, Leinster Rugby, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles, Munster Rugby, Lyon, Toulouse, La Rochelle, Scarlets, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Bristol Bears, Exeter Chiefs, Edinburgh Rugby, Gloucester Rugby, RC Toulon, Sale Sharks
(Racing 92, Leinster, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles and Munster are guaranteed home matches in the Round of 16)
Challenge Cup – London Irish, Ospreys, Leicester Tigers, Cardiff Blues, Zebre Rugby Club, Agen, Benetton Rugby, Newcastle Falcons, Ulster Rugby, Connacht Rugby, Northampton Saints, Bath Rugby, Montpellier, Dragons, Harlequins, Glasgow Warriors
(London Irish, Ospreys and Leicester Tigers are guaranteed home matches in the Round of 16)
EPCR KEY DATES
Knockout Stage Draws: Tuesday, 9 March
Rounds of 16: 2/3/4 April
Quarter-finals: 9/10/11 April
Semi-finals: 30 April – 1/2 May
Challenge Cup final: Marseille - Friday, 21 May
Heineken Champions Cup final: Marseille - Saturday, 22 May