As revealed last week, the pool draws for the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup tournaments will be staged at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium next week (Tuesday, June 28).
Both draws will be streamed live on www.epcrugby.com and the event will start at 12pm Irish time, with the draw for the EPCR Challenge Cup pools which will be followed by the Heineken Champions Cup draw at approximately 12.25pm.
For the Champions Cup draw, which will feature the Stormers, Bulls and Sharks from South Africa for the first time, the 24 qualified teams will be in four tiers based on their rankings from the Top 14, Gallagher Premiership and the United Rugby Championship, before being drawn into two pools of 12 – Pool A and Pool B. Teams from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn into the same pool.
The number 1 and number 2 ranked teams from each league will be in tier 1 (this includes Castres Olympique and Montpellier who will compete in Top 14 final on Friday). The number 3 and number 4 ranked teams 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 which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away over four pool rounds, as will the tier 2 and tier 3 sides which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league.
For example, the Stormers, who won last Saturday’s URC grand final, will be in tier 1 and will be drawn against either Clermont Auvergne or Lyon, and against either Exeter Chiefs or London Irish from tier 4.
Similarly, Leicester Tigers, who triumphed in the Gallagher Premiership final, will also be in tier 1 and will be drawn against either Clermont Auvergne or Lyon, and against either Edinburgh or the Ospreys from tier 4.
Meanwhile, the losing Top 14 semi-finalists, Bordeaux-Bègles and Toulouse, who will be in tier 2, will be drawn against either Gloucester or Sale Sharks, and against either the Sharks or Munster from tier 3.
The live-streamed draw for the EPCR Challenge Cup pools, which includes the Johannesburg-based Lions and the Cheetahs from Bloemfontein, will have 20 teams in three tiers in order to create two pools of 10 – Pool A and Pool B. Clubs from the same league will not play against one another during the pool phase.
The number 1 and number 2 ranked teams from the United Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the Gallagher Premiership will be in tier 1. The number 3 and number 4 ranked teams from each league, as well as the number 5 and number 6 ranked sides from the URC, will be in tier 2. The Dragons, Zebre Parma, Perpignan, Bayonne, Bath and the Cheetahs will be in tier 3.
The tier 1 and the tier 3 teams which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away over four pool rounds.
The tier 2 teams which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not from the same league, will play one another home and away during the pool phase.
In order to adhere to the key principle of no same-league matches, tier 2 teams from the Top 14 will only play against opposition from the URC, and similarly, tier 2 clubs from the Premiership will also only play against opposition from the URC.
For example, in tier 2, the Lions will play against either Stade Francais or Brive, and against either Worcester Warriors or Newcastle Falcons.
Once the draws have been concluded, EPCR will prepare the fixture schedules for both tournaments with an announcement of exact dates, venues, kick-off times and TV coverage to follow as soon as practicable.
The 2022/23 season will be played over eight weekends with four rounds of pool matches starting in December, followed by the knockout stages consisting of a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the finals at the Aviva Stadium on May 19 and 20, 2023.
2022/23 HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP QUALIFIERS:
TOP 14 – Castres Olympique, Montpellier, 3 Bordeaux-Bègles, 4 Toulouse, 5 La Rochelle, 6 Racing 92, 7 Clermont Auvergne, 8 Lyon
GALLAGHER PREMIERSHIP – 1 Leicester Tigers, 2 Saracens, 3 Harlequins, 4 Northampton Saints, 5 Gloucester Rugby, 6 Sale Sharks, 7 Exeter Chiefs, 8 London Irish
UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP – 1 Stormers, 2 Bulls, 3 LEINSTER, 4 ULSTER, 5 Sharks, 6 MUNSTER, 7 Edinburgh, 8 Ospreys
POOL DRAW TIERS:
TIER 1: Castres Olympique, Montpellier, Leicester Tigers, Saracens, Stormers, Bulls
TIER 2: Bordeaux-Bègles, Toulouse, Harlequins, Northampton Saints, LEINSTER, ULSTER
TIER 3: La Rochelle, Racing 92, Gloucester, Sale Sharks, Sharks, MUNSTER
TIER 4: Clermont Auvergne, Lyon, Exeter Chiefs, London Irish, Edinburgh, Ospreys
2022/23 EPCR CHALLENGE CUP QUALIFIERS:
UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP – 1 Glasgow Warriors, 2 Scarlets, 3 CONNACHT, 4 Lions, 5 Benetton Rugby, 6 Cardiff Rugby, 7 Dragons, 8 Zebre Parma
TOP 14 – 1 Toulon, 2 Pau, 3 Stade Francais, 4 Brive, 5 Perpignan, 6 Bayonne
GALLAGHER PREMIERSHIP – 1 Wasps, 2 Bristol Bears, 3 Worcester Warriors, 4 Newcastle Falcons, 5 Bath, Invited: Cheetahs
POOL DRAW TIERS:
TIER 1: Glasgow Warriors, Scarlets, Toulon, Pau, Wasps, Bristol Bears
TIER 2: CONNACHT, Lions, Benetton, Cardiff Rugby, Stade Francais, Brive, Worcester Warriors, Newcastle Falcons
TIER 3: Dragons, Zebre Parma, Perpignan, Bayonne, Bath, Cheetahs