The new structure of European rugby
April 10, 2014
It seemed like it would never arrive but a compromise has been found and we can now look forward to a new-look European rugby tournament next season. Here is the breakdown of exactly what is replacing the Heineken Cup.
The European Rugby Champions Cup
Twenty clubs qualifying through the finishing positions in their leagues from the preceding season:
Top six from Top 14
For the 2014-15 campaign, the 20th place will be taken by the winner of a play-off between the seventh highest finishing club in the Top 14 and in the Premiership. The play-off will be played in May 2014, either as one match (in which case, there will be a draw for home advantage) or as home/away.
For subsequent seasons: The seventh highest finishing club from Top 14, the seventh highest finishing club from the Premiership and the eighth and ninth highest finishing clubs from PRO 12 will play-off.
From 2015 season, if the previous season's European Rugby Challenge Cup winner has not already qualified through its finishing position in its league, it will participate in the play-off by taking a place given to its league.
European Rugby Challenge Cup
It will consist of 20 clubs comprising 18 clubs from Top 14, Premiership Rugby and PRO 12. The other two spots will go to two clubs from the qualifying competition organised with FIRA-AER (Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur - Association Européenne de Rugby).
The format of both competitions
The competitions will take place over nine weekends. The Pool phase will be through five Pools of four teams which will play each other home and away. The five Pool winners and the 3 best runners-up will qualify for the quarter-finals. The last eight will be played at the home venues of the four best Pool winners.
The Pool phase will be played in three blocks of two weekends and will be completed by the end of January. The final will take place latest the first weekend of May.
The governing body
The competition will be run by a board of directors and an executive committee in charge of commercial matters all under the auspices of European Professional Club Rugby, the body replacing European Rugby Cup Ltd. The EPCR Board shall have an independent Chairman and will be chaired in Switzerland.
There will be an equal distribution of funds with the nine constituent parties agreeing to the above format. They are: Federation Francaise de Rugby (FFR), Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR), Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), Ligue Nationale De Rugby (LNR), Premiership Rugby Ltd (PRL), Regional Rugby Wales Ltd (RRW), Rugby Football Union
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