The line-up for the 2020/21 European Challenge Cup has been confirmed following the final round of fixtures in the Gallagher Premiership regular season last weekend.
Next season’s Challenge Cup will start with 14 clubs – six from the TOP 14, four from the Premiership and four from the PRO14 – in a single pool. Clubs will play twice at home and twice away in the pool stage and will not face clubs from their own league.
Leicester Tigers reached the Challenge Cup semi-finals this season in their first appearance in the tournament and will be joined by Premiership rivals Worcester Warriors, London Irish and promoted Newcastle Falcons in the new-look tournament in 2020/21.
The remaining qualified clubs are Benetton Rugby, Cardiff Blues, Ospreys and Zebre Rugby Club rom the PRO14 alongside Agen, Bayonne, Brive, Castres Olympique, Pau and Stade Français Paris from France.
The Challenge Cup season begins on the weekend of December 11/12/13 and fixtures will be announced soon.
Entry to the pool stage fixtures will be included in Tigers season tickets.
Following the four pool fixtures, the leading eight clubs will be joined by eight representatives from the Heineken Champions Cup for the Round of 16. This will be followed by quarter-finals and semi-finals, with the final scheduled in Marseille on May 21, 2021.
A new format for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup has been agreed for next season on an exceptional basis against the backdrop of Covid-19 and its ongoing impact on the professional club game in Europe.
The 2020/21 Heineken Champions Cup will be contested by 24 clubs with the eight highest-ranked representatives from the Gallagher Premiership, Guinness PRO14 and TOP 14 securing their places.
Clubs will be drawn into two pools of 12 and play four matches in the pool stage followed by home-and-away quarter-finals, the semi-finals and final in Marseille on May 22, 2021.
All clubs will be separated into tiers for the draw and clubs from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn in the same pool. The top four in each pool will qualify for the quarter-finals, with clubs ranked fifth to eighth in each pool entering the knockout stages of the Challenge Cup.
Qualified clubs for 2020/21 Heineken Champions Cup
PRO14: Leinster Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby, Munster Rugby, Ulster Rugby, Scarlets, Glasgow Warriors, Connacht Rugby, Dragons
TOP 14: Bordeaux-Bègles, Lyon, Racing 92, RC Toulon, La Rochelle, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Toulouse, Montpellier
Gallagher Premiership: Exeter Chiefs, Wasps, Bristol Bears, Bath Rugby, Sale Sharks, Harlequins, Gloucester Rugby, Northampton Saints