The United Rugby Championship (URC) has confirmed changes to qualification for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup ahead of the 2023/24 season.
The URC will now introduce full meritocracy for EPCR qualification starting this season, which will see all eight top-ranked teams from the league table qualify for the Champions Cup.
URC changes Champions Cup qualification
Should a URC team win the Champions or Challenge Cups without finishing among the top-ranked teams in the league table, they will receive a place in the Champions Cup. In such an event, the team that finishes eighth in URC will be placed into the EPCR Challenge Cup.
“The previous qualification method was designated for review in the summer of 2023. At this point, the league’s Sports & Regulatory Committee recommended the return to meritocracy,” a statement from the URC read.
“As a consequence, the Shield winners will now be determined by the games played amongst the teams within their regional group.”
Martin Anayi, CEO, United Rugby Championship, added: “The first two seasons of URC set records for audiences and attendances thanks to the appeal and jeopardy of the league.
“Returning to straight meritocracy as a qualification method for the Investec Champions Cup will further turn up the dial on the competitiveness of our league.
“The debate between representation and meritocracy in our league has always been a complex discussion among our stakeholders.
“However, when it comes to creating the most competitive arena for our teams, meritocracy is a proven method for achieving this.
“In 2017 we brought in full meritocracy over representation in the PRO12 and this lifted the level of competition throughout the league.
“When launching BKT URC against the backdrop of the pandemic, it was prudent to choose the representative qualification route and now after the review our stakeholders have opted to return to meritocracy.”