Explainer: How the Investec Champions Cup knockout stages work

Dylan Coetzee
Champions Cup trophy.

Champions Cup trophy.

The Investec Champions Cup is back with the round of 16 as the tournament enters its business end, where winners advance and losers get sent home.

In light of the prestigious club competition entering the knockout phase, we take a look at the format and who might play who in the next stage.

Round of 16

The group stage was completed in January, marking the fourth round of action, which determined the final rankings in each pool. From there, the teams were seeded according to their positions in their respective pools, resulting in the match-ups for the round of 16.

The winners of each pool make up seeds one to four based on their final points tally, the second-placed teams in the pools are ranked five to eight, third-placed sides ranked nine to 12 and fourth-placed 13 to 16.

R16 1: Toulouse (1) v Racing 92 (16)
R16 2: Leinster (2) v Leicester Tigers (15)
R16 3: Northampton Saints (3) v Munster (14)
R16 4: Bordeaux-Begles (4) v Saracens (13)
R16 5: Harlequins (5) v Glasgow Warriors (12)
R16 6: Bulls (6) v Lyon (11)
R16 7: Stormers (7) v La Rochelle (10)
R16 8: Exeter (8) v Bath (9)

() – Team ranking.

Champions Cup knockout stages.

Champions Cup knockout stages.

Stormers preparing for Test match intensity against ‘one of the best club teams in the world’


The bracket for the next stage of the competition has already been locked in as is the same for the semi-final and will be played out as follows on April 12/13/14.

QF 1: Toulouse (1)/Racing (16) v Exeter (8)/Bath (9)
QF 2: Leinster (2)/Leicester Tigers (15) v Stormers (7)/La Rochelle (10)
QF 3: Northampton Saints (3)/Munster (14) v Bulls (6)/Lyon (11)
QF 4: Harlequins (5)/ Glasgow Warriors (12) v Bordeaux-Begles (4)/Saracens (13)

It is important to note that the higher-ranked team will have home ground advantage for the quarter-finals stage.


The established bracket continues at this stage where only four teams will remain in the quest for European glory, with games being played on May 3/4/5.

SF 1: Winner QF1 v winner QF4
SF 2: Winner QF2 v winner QF3

As revealed by Bulls director of rugby Jake White earlier this year, South African teams cannot host a semi-final in their country as the franchises are not shareholders of the United Rugby Championship or European Professional Club Rugby.


As is the standard for the Champions Cup, the final is in a fixed location with the last two teams slugging it out in London at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 25.

READ MORE: Leinster sweating on Ireland stars ahead of Champions Cup showdown with Leicester Tigers