CONFIRMED: Stormers, Bulls in top tier for Champions Cup pool draw
NEWS: The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup pool draw tiers have been confirmed.
The pool draws for the 2022/23 tournaments will be staged in Dublin on Tuesday, June 28.
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, Premiership and the URC, 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. (See qualifiers and tiers below)
The No.1 and No.2 ranked clubs from each league will be in Tier One – this includes Castres Olympique and Montpellier Hérault Rugby, who will compete in TOP 14 final on Friday – the No.3 and No.4 ranked clubs will be in Tier Two, the No.5 and No.6 ranked clubs will be in Tier Three, and the No.7 and No.8 ranked clubs will be Tier Four.
The Tier One and the Tier Four clubs 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 stage rounds, as will the Tier Two and Tier Three clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league.
For example, the Stormers, who won this past weekend’s URC Grand Final, will be in Tier One and will be drawn against either ASM Clermont Auvergne or Lyon, and against either the Exeter Chiefs or London Irish from Tier Four.
Similarly, Leicester Tigers, who triumphed in the Premiership final, will also be in Tier One and will be drawn against either ASM Clermont Auvergne or Lyon, and against either Edinburgh or Ospreys from Tier Four.
Meanwhile, the losing TOP 14 semifinalists, Union Bordeaux-Bègles and Stade Toulousain, who will be in Tier Two, will be drawn against either Gloucester or Sale Sharks, and against either the Sharks or Munster from Tier Three.
The live-streamed draw for the EPCR Challenge Cup pools, which includes the Johannesburg-based Lions and the Cheetahs from Bloemfontein, will have 20 teamss in three tiers in order to create two pools of 10 – Pool A and Pool B. Teams from the same league will not play against one another during the pool stage. (See qualifiers and tiers below)
The No.1 and No.2 ranked teams from the URC, the TOP 14 and the Premiership will be in Tier One, the No.3 and No.4 ranked clubs from each league, as well as the No.5 and No.6 ranked teams from the URC, will be in Tier Two.
The Dragons, Zebre Parma, USAP, Aviron Bayonnais, Bath and the Cheetahs will be in Tier Three.
The Tier One and the Tier Three 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 stage rounds.
The Tier Two 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 stage.
In order to adhere to the key principle of no same-league matches, Tier Two teams from the TOP 14 will only play against opposition from the URC, and similarly, Tier two2 clubs from the Premiership will also only play against opposition from the URC.
For example, in Tier Two, the Lions will play against either Stade Francais Paris or CA 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 matches in the pool stage starting in December, followed by a knockout stage consisting of a Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, culminating in the Dublin finals at the Aviva Stadium on 19 and 20 May 2023.
*Both draws will be streamed live on www.epcrugby.com and the event will start at 12.00 (UK-Irish time) / 13.00 (SA-Italian time) with the draw for the EPCR Challenge Cup pools, which will be followed by the Champions Cup draw at approximately 12.25 / 13.25.
2022/23 CHAMPIONS CUP QUALIFIERS:
TOP 14: Castres Olympique, Montpellier Hérault Rugby, 3 Union Bordeaux-Bègles, 4 Stade Toulousain, 5 Stade Rochelais, 6 Racing 92, 7 ASM Clermont Auvergne, 8 Lyon
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
Champions Cup pool draw tiers:
Tier 1: Castres Olympique, Montpellier Hérault Rugby, Leicester Tigers, Saracens, Stormers, Bulls
Tier 2: Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Stade Toulousain, Harlequins, Northampton Saints, Leinster Rugby, Ulster Rugby
Tier 3: Stade Rochelais, Racing 92, Gloucester Rugby, Sale Sharks, Sharks, Munster Rugby
Tier 4: ASM Clermont Auvergne, Lyon, Exeter Chiefs, London Irish, Edinburgh Rugby, Ospreys
2022/23 EPCR CHALLENGE CUP QUALIFIERS
United Rugby Championship: 1 Glasgow Warriors, 2 Scarlets, 3 Connacht Rugby, 4 Lions, 5 Benetton Rugby, 6 Cardiff Rugby, 7 Dragons, 8 Zebre Parma
TOP 14: 1 RC Toulon, 2 Section Paloise, 3 Stade Français Paris, 4 CA Brive, 5 USAP 6 Aviron Bayonnais
Premiership: 1 Wasps, 2 Bristol Bears, 3 Worcester Warriors, 4 Newcastle Falcons, 5 Bath Rugby
EPCR Challenge Cup pool draw tiers
Tier 1: Glasgow Warriors, Scarlets, RC Toulon, Section Paloise, Wasps, Bristol Bears
Tier 2: Connacht Rugby, Lions, Benetton Rugby, Cardiff Rugby, Stade Francais Paris, CA Brive, Worcester Warriors, Newcastle Falcons
Tier 3: Dragons, Zebre Parma, USAP, Aviron Bayonnais, Bath Rugby, Cheetahs