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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.

  • Euro Challenge Cup Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh vs Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Preview
Friday , October 24
Brive vs Zebre18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs London IrishGrenoble vs London Irish Preview
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs Connacht15:00
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
  • Euro Challenge Cup Results
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Sunday , October 19
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
Saturday , October 18
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Friday , October 17
Newcastle 43 - 19 Bucuresti
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
Thursday , October 16
Gloucester 55 - 0 BriveGloucester vs Brive Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
  • Euro Challenge Cup Table
Pool 1
European Rugby Challenge Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1London Irish15
2Cardiff Blues15
3Rovigo10
4Grenoble10
Pool 2
European Rugby Challenge Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Connacht15
2Bayonne14
3Exeter11
4La Rochelle10
Pool 3
European Rugby Challenge Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Newcastle Falcons15
2Dragons15
3Bucuresti10
4Stade Francais10
Pool 4
European Rugby Challenge Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1LOU Rugby15
2Edinburgh14
3Bordeaux-Begles11
4London Welsh10
Pool 5
European Rugby Challenge Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Gloucester15
2Oyonnax14
3Zebre10
4Brive10