Euro Cup gets 'Round of 16' after delay
NEWS: The European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments will both feature a Round of 16 – following pool-play cancellations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers announced Wednesday.
In the elite Champions Cup, the last two scheduled rounds in the group phase were abandoned after the French government blocked Top 14 teams from taking part in cross-border competition due to COVID-19 concerns.
Now a Round of 16 will be staged on the weekend of April 2 to 4 – with the quarterfinals, semifinals and Final in Marseille taking place as scheduled.
A draw made up of the eight highest-ranked clubs in Pool A and Pool B at the time of last month’s suspension will be held on March 9 to determine the line up for the next two rounds.
Teams from the same league cannot be drawn against one another and those sides that won both pool games on the field – England’s Wasps, France’s Racing 92 and Bordeaux-Begles, as well as Irish provinces Leinster and Munster – are all guaranteed a home match in the Round of 16.
Also promoted from the group phase are reigning English and European champions Exeter.
For the second-tier Challenge Cup, the eight highest-ranked clubs from the preliminary stage at the time of the suspension and the eight clubs who have not qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions Cup will compete in a round of 16.
Champions Cup knockout stage qualifiers: Racing 92 (France), Leinster (Ireland), Wasps (England), Bordeaux-Begles (France), Munster (Ireland), Lyon (France), Toulouse (France), La Rochelle (France), Scarlets (Wales), Clermont (France), Bristol (England), Exeter (England), Edinburgh (Scotland), Gloucester (England), Toulon (France), Sale (England).
Challenge Cup qualifiers: London Irish (England), Ospreys (Wales), Leicester (England), Cardiff Blues (Wales), Zebre (Italy), Agen (France), Benetton (Italy), Newcastle (England), Ulster (Ireland), Connacht (Ireland), Northampton (England), Bath (England), Montpellier (France), Harlequins (England), Glasgow (Scotland).
Champions Cup schedule:
Apr 2 to 4: Round of 16
Apr 9 to 11: Quarterfinals
Apr 30 to May 2: Semifinals
May 22: Final