EPCR has confirmed a return to a multi-pool format for the 2023-24 season, agreed with the Leagues and Unions
Scarlets will be one of 18 clubs, split into three pools of six, taking part in the EPCR Challenge Cup.
There will be eight teams from the United Rugby Championship (Cell C Sharks, Emirates Lions, Benetton Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby, Ospreys, Scarlets, Dragons RFC, Zebre Parma), six from the French TOP 14 (Castres Olympique, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Montpellier Herault Rugby, Section Paloise, USAP, Oyonnax Rugby), Gloucester and Newcastle Falcons from the Gallagher Premiership plus two invited clubs (to be confirmed).
The clubs will be drawn or allocated into three pools of six with two TOP 14 clubs in each pool. Clubs from the same URC Shield and from the Premiership, as well as the two invitees, will be kept apart during the draw meaning Scarlets can’t be drawn against the Ospreys or Dragons in the pool stages.
Clubs will play four different opponents home or away with same-league matches being kept to a minimum, and only impacting clubs from the URC. The four highest-ranked clubs from each of the pools will qualify for the knockout stage.
The pool draws for the 2023-24 tournaments will take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday, June 21 and will be broadcast live on EPCRugby.TV. Further details and timings will be communicated shortly.
EPCR Chairman Dominic McKay said: “We are delighted to announce the new formats for the 2023-24 season. We’ve been working hard with our Leagues and key stakeholders to ensure we have the right competition structures – for players and clubs – but also crucially for supporters.
“Our focus has always been to ensure that everyone can easily understand, engage with and follow our tournaments, and also to ensure we have a structure that creates real sporting jeopardy in as many matches as possible.
“We reached this conclusion following a thorough process during which we engaged with stakeholders in a meaningful way – not just our Leagues and unions, but also with our broadcasters, partners and around 1,000 rugby enthusiasts in order to canvass their views.
“We will continue to work with our stakeholders to look at ways in which we can improve both tournaments, an objective which is at the heart of our strategy and commitment to fans, clubs and partners.
“Our competitions truly are the pinnacle of professional club rugby, and we have to ensure that they continue to engage and to enthral existing and new audiences along the way.”
Round 1 – 8/9/10 December 2023
Round 2 – 15/16/17 December 2023
Round 3 – 12/13/14 January 2024
Round 4 – 19/20/21 January 2024
Round of 16 – 5/6/7 April 2024
Quarter-finals – 12/13/14 April 2024
Semi-finals – 3/4/5 May 2024
EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday 24 May 2024, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Champions Cup final – Saturday 25 May 2024, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium