WATCH: New format for 2020/2021 Heineken Champions Cup revealed

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

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Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

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ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

New format for 2020/2021 Heineken Champions Cup revealed

New EPCR tournament formats have been agreed for the 2020/21 season

The EPCR Board has unanimously agreed that new Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournament formats will be introduced for the 2020/21 season.

The decision to alter the formats for next season on an exceptional basis has been made against the backdrop of the COVID-19 public health crisis and its ongoing impact on the professional club game in Europe.

The 2020/21 Heineken Champions Cup will be competed for by 24 clubs with the eight highest-ranked representatives from the Guinness PRO14, the Gallagher Premiership and the TOP 14 securing their places.

The clubs will be divided into two pools of 12 by means of a draw and the tournament will be played over eight weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage followed by a knockout stage consisting of home and away quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final in Marseille on 22 May 2021.

For the purposes of the pool draw, the clubs will be separated into tiers, and clubs from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn into the same pool.

Clink on link below to watch video explaining the new Heineken Champions Cup format

The number 1 and number 2 ranked clubs from each league will be in Tier 1, the number 3 and number 4 ranked clubs will be in Tier 2, the number 5 and 6 ranked clubs will be in Tier 3, and the number 7 and number 8 ranked clubs will be in Tier 4.

The Tier 1 and the Tier 4 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 2 and Tier 3 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league.

The four highest-ranked clubs in each pool will qualify for the quarter-finals, and the clubs ranked numbers 5 to 8 in each pool will compete in the knockout stage of the Challenge Cup.

"With an expanded knockout stage and no repeats of domestic matches during the pool stage, this format creates brand new competitive opportunities for Europe’s elite clubs and their fans," said EPCR Chairman, Simon Halliday.

"In this time of change, the Heineken Champions Cup with its global stars of the game, its passionate supporters and its unique match-day atmosphere undoubtedly remains The One to Win."

QUALIFIED CLUBS FOR 2020/21 HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP

PRO14: Leinster Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby, Munster Rugby, Ulster Rugby, Scarlets, Glasgow Warriors, Connacht Rugby, Dragons (Rankings TBC at conclusion of current season)

TOP 14: Bordeaux-Bègles, Lyon, Racing 92, RC Toulon, La Rochelle, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Toulouse, *Montpellier or Castres Olympique

Premiership: TBC

*NB If not already ranked number one, the winners of the 2020 Heineken Champions Cup will become the second-ranked club from its league. If not already qualified for the Heineken Champions Cup, the winners of the 2020 Challenge Cup will take the place of the eighth-ranked club from its league.

Start of 2020/21 season: weekend of 11/12/13 December