Toulouse begin defence of Champions Cup title at Cardiff

Date published: October 7 2021 - Planet Rugby

Toulouse, who completed a magnificent double of Champions Cup and Top 14 triumphs last season, will kick off the defence of their elite European title on Saturday, 11 December with a Round 1 clash against Cardiff at Cardiff Arms Park.

The reprise of the historic inaugural final is one of a host of high-quality contests in the pool stage fixture schedules which have been announced.

Four-time tournament winners and last season’s PRO14 champions, Leinster, will open their campaign with a Round 1 tie in Pool A against Bath at the Aviva Stadium, while Harlequins, who won the 2021 Premiership in such spectacular style, will travel to play Castres on Sunday, 12 December in Pool B.

Highlights of the back-to-back clashes in Rounds 2 and 3 feature the Pool A matches between Sale Sharks and ASM Clermont Auvergne on Saturday, 18 December and Sunday, 16 January 2022, as well as the meetings of Stade Francais and Bristol Bears in Pool B.

Last season’s defeated finalists, La Rochelle, will attempt to go one better when they launch their European campaign against Glasgow Warriors in Pool A at Stade Marcel-Deflandre on Sunday, 12 December, and the tournament will get under way on Friday, 10 December when Northampton Saints host Racing 92 at the cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

Modified Challenge Cup

A modified Challenge Cup format will see 15 clubs competing in three pools over five pool stage rounds with Saracens marking their return to European competition with a Round 1 match in Pool C against Edinburgh at the StoneX Stadium on Saturday, 11 December.

The 2012 winners, Biarritz, are also back in Europe after an absence of seven years and their opening Pool A tie on Saturday, 11 December sees them up against Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi while three-time finalists, RC Toulon, start out in Round 2 at Stade Félix Mayol, also against Zebre on Friday, 17 December.

Clubs will only play against opponents from their own pool, and one club in each pool will have a bye during each round. The exact dates and kick-off times for the Round 5 fixtures on 8/9/10 April 2022 will be announced later in the season.

The three highest-ranked clubs from each pool, and the highest-ranked fourth-placed club, as well as six Champions Cup clubs, will qualify for the Round of 16 which will be played on the weekend of 15/16/17 April 2022, followed by quarter-finals and semi-finals, with the final at the Stade Vélodrome, Marseille on 27 May 2022.