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Euro Battle Hotting Up For Celtic Sides

Euro Battle Hotting Up For Celtic Sides

As well as chasing a dream ticket into the Magners League play-offs this season, the 10 teams are also looking to book their places in the 2010/2011 Heineken Cup.

With the removal of the end of season play-off between the best non-qualified team in the Magners League and the third placed team in the Italian League, it is going to be harder to join the elite teams in Europe in the main competition.

For three of the past four seasons, the Heineken Cup winners have been drawn from the Magners League and three of the 2009 semi-finalists – eventual champions Leinster, Munster and the Cardiff Blues – came out of the Celtic competition for the first time.

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This season the Irish and Welsh clubs in the Magners League will be guaranteed three places in the Heineken Cup and the Scottish two.

But there is a chance for a fourth Welsh and Irish club to make it into Europe’s elite through a team from their country winning either the Heineken Cup of Amlin Challenge Cup.

The 24 teams in the Heineken Cup for the 2010/11 campaign will comprise of a minimum of six teams each from England and France, three each from Ireland and Wales and two each from Scotland and Italy.

The final two places will be determined by the nations winning the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup.

England and France can rise to a maximum of seven teams in the Heineken Cup, while Ireland and Wales can go to four each.

If one country were to win both tournaments, then the ERC Rankings will be used to determine the 24th entrant into the Heineken Cup with the highest ranked, non-qualified team taking the place.

Celtic Rugby Director David Jordan said: “There is so much to play for this season and the new European qualification is making the Magners League an even tougher tournament.

“For the first time it is possible we could have all 10 teams qualifying for the Heineken Cup.

“There is so much to play for and the fans can look forward to an increase in tempo and intensity as the league moves into its ‘second half’ in the New Year.”