Following the announcement of the inclusion of the leading South African clubs in its tournaments, EPCR is pleased to confirm the formats and qualifiers for next season’s expanded Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup.
The 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup will feature 24 elite clubs, with eight representatives from the United Rugby Championship – including historic first appearances by the Stormers, Bulls and Sharks – as well as eight representatives from the Gallagher Premiership and eight from the TOP 14.
The clubs will be divided into two pools of 12 – Pool A and Pool B – and the tournament will be played over eight weekends, with four rounds of matches in the pool stage starting in December.
The eight highest-ranked clubs from each pool will qualify for the knockout stage which will consist of a Round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the showpiece final at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.
The draw for the Heineken Champions Cup pools will be live-streamed from the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, June 28.
This will follow the same lines as last season with the clubs separated into four tiers based on their rankings. Clubs from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn into the same pool.
The No1 and 2 ranked clubs from each league will be in Tier 1, the No3 and 4 clubs will be in Tier 2, the No5 and 6 clubs in Tier 3, and the No7 and 8 clubs in Tier 4.
The Tier 1 and the Tier 4 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away during the pool stage, as will the Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league.
There are 20 clubs in next season’s EPCR Challenge Cup with eight representatives from the United Rugby Championship, including the Johannesburg-based Lions, six from the TOP 14, five from the Premiership, and the Cheetahs who have accepted an invitation to compete.
The six highest-ranked clubs from each pool, as well as the ninth and 10th ranked clubs from each of the Heineken Champions Cup pools, will qualify for a Round of 16.
The live-streamed draw for the EPCR Challenge Cup pools is also scheduled to take place at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday, June 28.
2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup Qualifiers
TOP 14: Castres Olympique, Montpellier Hérault Rugby, Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Stade Toulousain, 5 Stade Rochelais, 6 Racing 92, 7 ASM Clermont Auvergne, 8 Lyon
Gallagher Premiership: Leicester Tigers, Saracens, 3 Harlequins, 4 Northampton Saints, 5 Gloucester Rugby, 6 Sale Sharks, 7 Exeter Chiefs, 8 London Irish
United Rugby Championship: Stormers, Bulls, 3 Leinster Rugby, 4 Ulster Rugby, 5 Sharks, 6 Munster Rugby, 7 Edinburgh Rugby, 8 Ospreys
2022/23 EPCR Challenge Cup Qualifiers
United Rugby Championship: 1 Glasgow Warriors, 2 Scarlets, 3 Connacht Rugby, 4 Lions, 5 Benetton Rugby, 6 Cardiff Rugby, 7 Dragons, 8 Zebre Parma
TOP 14: 1 RC Toulon, 2 Section Paloise, 3 Stade Français Paris, 4 CA Brive, 5 Aviron Bayonnais, 6 USAP
Gallagher Premiership: 1 Wasps, 2 Bristol Bears, 3 Worcester Warriors, 4 Newcastle Falcons, 5 Bath Rugby
2022/23 key dates
Round 1 – December 9/10/11
Round 2 – December
Round 3 – January 13/14/15
Round 4 – January 20/21/22
Round of 16 – March 31/April 1- April
Quarter-finals – April 7/8/9
Semi-finals – April 28/29/30
EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday May 19, 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday May 20, 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin