As previously communicated, the pool draw for the 2021-22 Heineken Champions Cup will be staged in Lausanne, Switzerland next Wednesday (21 July) at 12.00 (UK and Irish time).
The draw will be live-streamed on HeinekenChampionsCup.com and the 24 clubs which have qualified for next season’s tournament from Europe’s three leading professional leagues will know their pool stage opponents once the formalities are concluded.
For the purposes of the event, which will be run on the same lines as last season, the clubs will first be placed into four tiers based on their rankings, before being drawn into two pools of 12 – Pool A and Pool B. Clubs from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn into the same pool.
The number 1 and number 2 ranked clubs from each league will be in Tier 1, the number 3 and number 4 ranked clubs will be in Tier 2, the number 5 and 6 ranked clubs will be in Tier 3, and the number 7 and number 8 ranked clubs will be Tier 4.
The Tier 1 and the Tier 4 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away during the pool stage, as will the Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league.
For example, recent winners of the coveted Heineken Champions Cup and TOP 14 double, Stade Toulousain, will be in Tier 1 and will be drawn against either Bath Rugby or Wasps, and against either Cardiff Rugby or Glasgow Warriors from Tier 4.
Similarly, Bristol Bears in Tier 2 will be drawn against either PRO14 qualifiers, Scarlets or Ospreys, and against either ASM Clermont Auvergne or Stade Français Paris from Tier 3.
Once the draw has been concluded, EPCR will begin work on the fixture schedule with an announcement of exact dates, venues, kick-off times and TV coverage to follow as soon as practicable.
The 2021/22 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 and semi-finals, with the final in Marseille on 28 May 2022.
2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup qualifiers
Gallagher 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
Pool Draw tiers
Tier 1: Harlequins, Exeter Chiefs, Leinster Rugby, Munster Rugby, Stade Toulousain, Stade Rochelais
Tier 2: Bristol Bears, Sale Sharks, Ulster Rugby, Connacht Rugby, Racing 92, Union Bordeaux-Bègles
Tier 3: Northampton Saints, Leicester Tigers, Scarlets, Ospreys, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Stade Français Paris
Tier 4: Bath Rugby, Wasps, Cardiff Rugby, Glasgow Warriors, Castres Olympique, Montpellier Hérault Rugby