Following in-depth discussions with its shareholder leagues and unions, EPCR have announced revised tournament formats for the 2020-21 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.
Both tournaments will resume with rounds of 16 matches on the weekend of April 2/3/4 and the knockout stages will continue with quarter-finals, semi-finals and the scheduled Marseille finals on EPCR’s allocated weekends in April and May.
As approved by the EPCR board, the rounds of 16 and quarter-final matches in both tournaments will now be decided by draws which will take place on Tuesday, March 9.
Regarding the Heineken Champions Cup, the eight highest-ranked clubs in Pool A and the eight highest-ranked clubs in Pool B at the time of the suspension of the tournament have qualified for the round of 16.
For the purposes of the draw, clubs from the same league cannot be drawn against one another, however, clubs from either pool can be drawn against one another.
A further agreed key principle of the Heineken Champions Cup draw will ensure that clubs which have won both pool stage matches on the pitch – i.e. where results were not impacted by COVID-19 – will play at home in the Round of 16. Therefore, Racing 92, Leinster Rugby, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles and Munster Rugby will each be guaranteed a home fixture.
The clubs which are not drawn against either Racing 92, Leinster, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles or Munster will have their opponents, and whether they will be playing at home or away, determined as part of the draw.
It has also been agreed that open draws will take place to determine the quarter-finals in both the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, allowing for the possibility of matches between clubs in the same league. The draws for the quarter-finals will take place immediately after the rounds of 16 draws on Tuesday, March 9.
Further details regarding the event, which will be streamed live on epcrugby.com, will be communicated early next month.
2020-21 Heineken Champions Cup knockout stage qualifiers
Racing 92, Leinster, Wasps, Bordeaux-Begles, Munster, Lyon, Toulouse, La Rochelle, Scarlets, Clermont Auvergne, Bristol Bears, Exeter Chiefs, Edinburgh, Gloucester, RC Toulon, Sale Sharks.
NB Racing 92, Leinster, Wasps, Bordeaux-Begles and Munster are guaranteed home matches in the round of 16.
EPCR key dates
Knockout stage draw: Tuesday, March 9
Round of 16: April 2/3/4
Quarter-finals: April 9-11
Semi-finals: April 30-May 1/2
Challenge Cup final: Marseille, Friday, May 21
Heineken Champions Cup final: Marseille, Saturday, May 22