Following the conclusion of the domestic seasons in England and France, EPCR has confirmed the format and qualifiers for the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup.
The Champions Cup will once again be competed for by 24 teams with eight representatives from the Gallagher Premiership, the Guinness PRO14 and the Top 14 having secured their places.
The teams will be divided into two pools of 12 – Pool A and Pool B – by means of a draw, and the tournament will be played over nine weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stages starting in December when Toulouse begin the defence of their title.
The eight highest-ranked sides from each pool will qualify for the knockout stages which will consist of a round of 16 on a home-and-away basis, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final in Marseille on Saturday, May 28, 2022.
The draw for the pools will be carried out on the same lines as last season with the teams separated into four tiers, and teams from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn into the same pool.
The number 1 and number 2 ranked sides from each league will be in tier 1, the number 3 and number 4 ranked sides will be in tier 2, the number 5 and 6 ranked sides will be in tier 3, and the number 7 and number 8 ranked sides will be Tier 4.
The tier 1 and the tier 4 teams that 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 stages, as will the tier 2 and tier 3 teams that have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league.
The pool draw will be live streamed on HeinekenChampionsCup.com and the date of the event as well as further details will be communicated shortly.
As previously announced, EPCR is currently putting the finishing touches to a new shareholder agreement, and discussions to finalise the European Challenge Cup format for the 2021/22 season, as well as the formats for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup 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, and no further comment will be made until the appropriate time.
2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup Qualifiers –
Gallagher Premiership: 1 Harlequins, 2 Exeter Chiefs, 3 Bristol Bears, 4 Sale Sharks, 5 Northampton Saints, 6 Leicester Tigers, 7 Bath, 8 Wasps
Guinness PRO14: 1 LEINSTER, 2 MUNSTER, 3 ULSTER, 4 CONNACHT, 5 Scarlets, 6 Ospreys, 7 Cardiff Rugby, 8 Glasgow Warriors
Top 14: 1 Toulouse, 2 La Rochelle, 3 Racing 92, 4 Bordeaux-Bègles, 5 Clermont Auvergne, 6 Stade Français, 7 Castres Olympique, 8 Montpellier
2021/22 EPCR Match Weekends:
Round 1 – December 10/11/12
Round 2 – December 17/18/19
Round 3 – January 14/15/16, 2022
Round 4 – January 21/22/23
Round of 16 (1st leg) – April 8/9/10
Round of 16 (2nd leg) – April 15/16/17
Quarter-Finals – May 6/7/8
Semi-Finals – May 13/14/15
European Challenge Cup Final – Friday, May 27; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Heineken Champions Cup Final – Saturday, May 28; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille