Euro pools and fixtures confirmed for 2022/2023 season
SPOTLIGHT: The pools and fixtures for the 2022/23 Champions Cup and Challange Cup tournaments have been revealed.
Next season is unlike the previous editions, with South African teams Bulls, Sharks and Stormers competing in the Champions Cup for the first time, while Lions and Cheetahs will feature in the Challenge Cup.
The Champions Cup is composed of two pools – namely A and B.
In Pool A, the Bulls open their Champions Cup campaign with a match against Lyon followed by a tough encounter against Premiership side Exeter Chiefs.
The Bulls are also joined by the Sharks in Pool A. The Durban side’s season kicks off with a match against Union Bordeaux-Bègles, followed by Harlequins.
Leinster, Racing 92, Gloucester, Saracens, Castre Olympic, and Edinburgh are the other teams competing in Pool A.
The Stormers, who have been crowned the United Rugby Championship, are in Pool B.
The Cape Town side takes on ASM Clermont Auvergne in their first-ever Champions Cup encounter, followed by a match against London Irish.
Sale Sharks, Stade Rochelais, Montpellier, Leicester Tigers ad Munster are the other teams that feature in Pool B.
The return of Cheetahs
Newcomers, the Lions from Johannesburg, were drawn against Stade Francais Paris and the Worcester Warriors in Pool B, while the Cheetahs, who will play their ‘home’ matches in Europe, will face Scarlets and Section Paloise also in Pool B.
For the Champions Cup draw, the 24 qualified clubs were in four tiers based on their rankings from the TOP 14, Premiership and the URC, before being drawn into two pools of 12 – Pool A and Pool B. Clubs from the same league in the same tier were not drawn into the same pool.
The Tier 1 and the Tier 4 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away over four pool stage rounds, as will the Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league.
The 20 EPCR Challenge Cup clubs were divided into three tiers in order to create two pools of 10 – Pool A and Pool B. Clubs from the same league cannot play against one another during the pool stage.
The Tier 1 and the Tier 3 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away over four pool stage rounds.
The Tier 2 clubs which were drawn in the same pool, but which are not from the same league, will play one another home and away during the pool stage. In order to adhere to the key principle of no same-league matches, Tier 2 clubs 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.
Round 1 – December 9/10/11, 2022
Round 2 – December 16/17/18, 2022
Round 3 – January 13/14/15, 2023
Round 4 – January 20/21/22, 2023
Round of 16 – March 31/ April 1/2, 2023
Quarter-finals – April 7/8/9, 2023
Semi-finals – April 28/29/30, 2023
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday, May 20, 2023, at Aviva Stadium, Dublin