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Peace in Europe

10th April 2014 18:32

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Northampton v Castres steamy scrum Heineken Cup 2014

Confirmed: European Rugby

From next season there will be three cross-border club competitions to be played under European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), it was revealed.

The European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup and a new competition called the Qualifying Competition have been formed, with 20 teams playing in the top tier and also in the second tier tournament.

Thursday's announcement brings to a conclusion months of discussions between different parties as it was confirmed that all nine stakeholders underlined their commitment to an invigorated competition that will start during 2014/15. And crucially the deal meets the requirements of all the parties involved, with the format shown below.

European Rugby Champions Cup qualification

20 clubs qualifying through the finishing positions in their leagues from the preceding season:

- Top six from Top 14
- Top six from Premiership Rugby
- Top seven from PRO12, with at least one club from each country participating in the league
- The 20th place will be taken by the winner of a play-off between:

For the first season: The seventh highest finishing club from Top 14 and the seventh highest finishing club from Premiership Rugby. This 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 Premiership Rugby and the eighth and ninth highest finishing clubs from PRO12 (or the two highest finishing which have not already qualified automatically).

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.

The play-off will take place over two dates.

- First date: Seventh club of Top 14 versus eighth or ninth from PRO12 and the seventh club of Premiership Rugby versus eighth or ninth from PRO12. The matches will be played at the home venues of the Top 14 and Premiership Rugby clubs.
- Second date: The two winners from the first matches. The venue will be selected by a draw.

European Rugby Challenge Cup qualification

- 20 clubs comprising eighteen clubs from Top 14, Premiership Rugby and PRO12
- Two clubs from the qualifying competition organised with FIRA-AER (Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur - Association Européenne de Rugby)

Format of both Competitions

The competition 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 (six matches). The five Pool winners and the three best runners-up will qualify for the Quarter-Finals. The Quarter-Finals will be played at the home venues of the four best Pool winners. The Quarter-Final winners will play the Semi-Finals and the Semi-Final winners will play the Final.

Calendar of both Competitions

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 Qualifying Competition will compromise between eight and twelve teams from Tier 2 countries and Italian clubs as agreed by EPCR and FIRA-AER.

EPCR will be managed through a Board of Directors representing all parties and an Executive committee in charge of commercial matters and assisting with preparations of Board meetings. The EPCR Board shall have an Independent Chairman.

The EPCR Executive will comprise the Independent Chairman, Director-General, and three voting representatives, one from each of the leagues - namely the Top 14, Premiership Rugby and PRO12. The Director-General shall manage the day to day operations of EPCR.

Competitions will be under the aegis of the IRB and run according to the IRB Laws Relating to the Game and IRB Regulations. The parties have also agreed to form a working party to discuss and propose the principles of an integration of European competitions within an all-encompassing European rugby framework.

A minimum eight year agreement

Equal distribution of funds. i.e. A third to Top 14 teams, a third to Premiership Rugby teams and a third to PRO12 teams, with a guaranteed minimum distribution for the clubs from the PRO12 in years 1-5.

Broadcast deal

In addition to the news, BT and Sky have reached an agreement in principle concerning arrangements for the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup competitions, both of which would be broadcast jointly by the pair.

The Pool matches would be shared equally, both will show two Quarter-Finals each, one Semi-Final each and the Final would be broadcast by both live. The four-year agreement is subject to contract.

  • Champions Cup Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
Saturday , December 6
Sale vs Saracens13:00
Munster vs Clermont Auvergne15:15
Harlequins vs LeinsterTBC
Leicester vs ToulonTBC
Ulster vs ScarletsTBC
Montpellier vs BathTBC
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
  • Champions Cup Results
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
Sunday , October 19
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
  • Champions Cup Table
Pool 1
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Munster28
2Saracens25
3Sale Sharks11
4Clermont Auvergne11
Pool 2
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Leinster14
2Harlequins14
3Wasps11
4Castres10
Pool 3
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Toulon28
2Scarlets24
3Leicester Tigers24
4Ulster21
Pool 4
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Glasgow Warriors29
2Toulouse28
3Montpellier22
4Bath21
Pool 5
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton25
2Ospreys25
3Racing Metro Paris14
4Treviso10