No South African teams in Euro Champions Cup
SPOTLIGHT: Following the conclusion of the domestic seasons in England and France, EPCR confirmed the format and qualifiers for the 2021/22 Champions Cup as Europe’s elite club tournament is set to return with a highly competitive schedule of 71 matches.
Next season’s European Champions Cup will again comprise two pools of 12 teams, mirroring the set-up brought in during the Covid-19 pandemic, but will not feature South African clubs, organisers announced Monday.
The 24 clubs involved are made up of eight teams each from the English Premiership, the Pro14 and French Top14.
The clubs will be divided into two pools of 12 by means of a draw and the tournament will be played over nine weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage starting in December.
The eight highest-ranked clubs from each pool will qualify for the knockout stage which will consist of a Round of 16 on a home and away basis, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final in Marseille on May 28, 2022.
There will be no place for the four South African teams that will join up with the Pro14 next season in the new 16-team United Rugby Championship.
But Cup organisers, the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), said they were “currently putting the finishing touches to a new shareholder agreement”.
EPCR said discussions to finalise the Challenge Cup format for the 2021/22 season, as well as the formats for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup for future seasons, were 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,” the body said.
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— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) June 26, 2021
2021/22 Champions Cup qualifiers
Premiership: 1 Harlequins, 2 Exeter Chiefs, 3 Bristol Bears, 4 Sale Sharks, 5 Northampton Saints, 6 Leicester Tigers, 7 Bath Rugby, 8 Wasps
PRO14: 1 Leinster Rugby, 2 Munster Rugby, 3 Ulster Rugby, 4 Connacht Rugby, 5 Scarlets, 6 Ospreys, 7 Cardiff Rugby, 8 Glasgow Warriors
TOP 14: 1 Stade Toulousain, 2 Stade Rochelais, 3 Racing 92, 4 Union Bordeaux-Bègles, 5 ASM Clermont Auvergne, 6 Stade Français Paris, 7 Castres Olympique, 8 Montpellier Hérault Rugby
2021/22 key dates
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, 2022
Round of 16 (1st leg) – April 8/9/10, 2022
Round of 16 (2nd leg) – April 15/16/17, 2022
Quarter-finals – May 6/7/8, 2022
Semi-finals – May 13/14/15, 2022
Challenge Cup final – Friday, May 27, 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Champions Cup final – Saturday, May 28, 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille