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EPCR confirm new 24-team Champions Cup next season

Groundhog

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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 Gallagher Premiership, the Guinness PRO14 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. 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 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.”

The 2020/21 Challenge Cup will start with 14 clubs – six from the TOP 14, four from the Premiership and four from the PRO14 – in a single pool. The tournament will be played over eight weekends with four rounds of matches in the preliminary stage and again, clubs from the same league will not play against one another.

With no requirement for a pool draw on this occasion, the 2020/21 Challenge Cup fixtures will be available to clubs and fans shortly following the conclusion of the current season.

The tournament knockout stage will consist of a round of 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals with the final in Marseille on 21 May 2021. The leading eight clubs, as well as eight representatives from the Heineken Champions Cup, will qualify for the round of 16.

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
 

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I mean I guess it's making the best of a bad situation, but really drives home how stupid it was not to just cancel the rest of the 19/20 season, and instead decide to ruin the 20/21 season as well.
 

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That sounds quite messy to me, is this a 20/21 solution only or is this to be the new format moving forward?
 

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I mean I guess it's making the best of a bad situation, but really drives home how stupid it was not to just cancel the rest of the 19/20 season, and instead decide to ruin the 20/21 season as well.
Actually, I take this back:

After reading through it all this is an absolute ******* car crash. Just cancel it, it's a bloody joke.
 

Groundhog

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Definitely an inferior and watered down format I feel. I'm still struggling to understand it fully I also would have preferred to just call this season a write off to get a full season off for 20/21, but I understand why they were hesitant to do that.
@EdBirch the article says its on an "exceptional basis" so hopefully it's only a one year format.
 

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Definitely an inferior and watered down format I feel. I'm still struggling to understand it fully I also would have preferred to just call this season a write off to get a full season off for 20/21, but I understand why they were hesitant to do that.
@EdBirch the article says its on an "exceptional basis" so hopefully it's only a one year format.

It's the pool stage i'm struggling to work out, you're in a 12 team pool but only play 4 teams?
 

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Struggling to see why they didn't just go for 6 groups of 4 with the two best runners up getting a quarter final?

It's like they've set up a tournament catered for the likes of Leinster and Toulouse, which I don't mind personally (every tournament should be) but it could be better for idiots who don't support Leinster.
 

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This is the worst format ever.

Nothing else to be said really.
 

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The format seems to be very biased towards the PL and Top14 teams as they get to play the weaker Pro14 teams, as we know that the strength in depth of that league is not as good, whereas the top Pro14 teams will play relatively stronger 4th placed teams, meaning their seeding position will be worse off for play-off.
 

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The format seems to be very biased towards the PL and Top14 teams as they get to play the weaker Pro14 teams, as we know that the strength in depth of that league is not as good, whereas the top Pro14 teams will play relatively stronger 4th placed teams, meaning their seeding position will be worse off for play-off.

Dragons are a soft draw and fortunate that they're in the Cheetahs conference, Benneton have 12 more league points than them. However Connacht have won three games or more every time they've qualified for the Heineken or Champions cup though, I reckon most sides would fancy their chances away to to the English sides at least over a trip to Galway.
 

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Definitely an inferior and watered down format I feel. I'm still struggling to understand it fully I also would have preferred to just call this season a write off to get a full season off for 20/21, but I understand why they were hesitant to do that.
@EdBirch the article says its on an "exceptional basis" so hopefully it's only a one year format.

That's assuming your crystal ball is saying the virus has disappeared and will not have any adverse effect henceforth without any disruptions. With winter on the way no one can say with any confidence whats on the horizon. Cancelling 19/20 season then have a new season also seriously disrupted/cancelled would be catastrophic.
At the moment ,taking everything into consideration ,i'm just glad they are actually playing.
 
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