Tournament organisers EPCR have today confirmed the format and qualifiers for the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup.
Europe’s elite club tournament will feature a total of 71 matches over nine weekends with 24 clubs, comprising eight representatives each from the Gallagher Premiership, Guinness PRO14 and TOP 14.
The clubs will be divided into two pools of 12 by means of a draw 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 on a home-and-away basis, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final in Marseille on May 28, 2022.
The draw for the pools will be carried out on the same lines as last season with the clubs separated into four tiers, and clubs from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn into the same pool.
The No1 and No2 ranked clubs from each league will be in Tier 1, the No3 and No4 ranked clubs will be in Tier 2, the No5 and No6 clubs – including Leicester Tigers – will be in Tier 3, and the No7 and No8 as 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 each other home and away during the pool stage. The Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs drawn in the same pool, but not in the same league, will do likewise.
The date of the draw will be communicated soon and the pool draw will be live streamed on HeinekenChampionsCup.com.
As previously announced, EPCR is currently putting the finishing touches to a new shareholder agreement. Discussions to finalise the Challenge Cup format for the 2021/22 season as well as the formats for the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup for future seasons are ongoing.
These discussions include the future participation of South African clubs in EPCR’s tournaments as referenced recently by the United Rugby Championship.
2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup qualifiers
Gallagher Premiership: 1 Harlequins, 2 Exeter Chiefs, 3 Bristol Bears, 4 Sale Sharks, 5 Northampton Saints, 6 Leicester Tigers, 7 Bath Rugby, 8 Wasps
Guinness PRO14: 1 Leinster Rugby, 2 Munster Rugby, 3 Ulster Rugby, 4 Connacht Rugby, 5 Scarlets, 6 Ospreys, 7 Cardiff Rugby, 8 Glasgow Warriors
TOP 14: 1 Stade Toulousain, 2 Stade Rochelais, 3 Racing 92, 4 Union Bordeaux-Bègles, 5 ASM Clermont Auvergne, 6 Stade Français Paris, 7 Castres Olympique, 8 Montpellier Hérault Rugby
2021/22 key dates
Round 1 – December 10/11/12
Round 2 – December 17/18/19
Round 3 – January 14/15/16
Round 4 – January 21/22/23
Round of 16 (1st leg) – April 8/9/10
Round of 16 (2nd leg) – April 15/16/17
Quarter-finals – May 6/7/8
Semi-finals – May 13/14/15
Challenge Cup final – Friday May 27 Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday May 28 Stade Vélodrome, Marseille