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Rugby News

Revised format for European tournaments

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Leicester Tigers are guaranteed a home draw in the opening stage of the knockout rounds in the European Challenge Cup following the announcement of a revised format for the remainder of this season.

Tigers are among three clubs – alongside London Irish and Ospreys – guaranteed a home game in the Round of 16 after winning both of the opening matches in the preliminary stage of the Challenge Cup, at home to Brive and then away to Bayonne, before the tournament was suspended.

Following discussions with its shareholder leagues and unions, organisers EPCR have revealed that the Challenge Cup and Heineken Champions Cup tournaments will resume with the ‘Round of 16’ matches on the weekend of April 2/3/4 and the knockout stages will continue with quarter-finals, semi-finals and the Marseille finals on allocated weekends in April and May.

A draw for the Rounds of 16 and quarter-final matches will take place on Tuesday, March 9.

The eight highest-ranked clubs from the preliminary stage of the Challenge Cup at the time of the suspension of the tournament and the eight clubs which have not qualified for the knockout stage of Heineken Champions Cup will compete in the Round of 16. Clubs from the same league cannot be drawn together.

It has been agreed that open draws will take place to determine the quarter-finals in both the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, allowing for the possibility of matches between clubs from the same league.

The draws for the quarter-finals will take place immediately after the Rounds of 16 draws on March 9. Details of the event, which will be streamed live on epcrugby.com, will be communicated early next month.

In the Champions Cup, the eight highest-ranked clubs in each of Pool A and Pool B at the time of the suspension have qualified for the Round of 16 and clubs from the same league will be kept apart. Clubs who won both pool stage matches on the pitch – Racing 92, Leinster, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles and Munster – will play at home in the Round of 16.

2020/21 Knockout Stage Qualifiers

Heineken Champions Cup – Racing 92, Leinster Rugby, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles, Munster Rugby, Lyon, Toulouse, La Rochelle, Scarlets, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Bristol Bears, Exeter Chiefs, Edinburgh Rugby, Gloucester Rugby, RC Toulon, Sale Sharks

Racing 92, Leinster, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles and Munster are guaranteed home matches in the Round of 16

Challenge Cup – London Irish, Ospreys, Leicester Tigers, Cardiff Blues, Zebre Rugby Club, Agen, Benetton Rugby, Newcastle Falcons, Ulster Rugby, Connacht Rugby, Northampton Saints, Bath Rugby, Montpellier, Dragons, Harlequins, Glasgow Warriors

London Irish, Ospreys and Leicester Tigers are guaranteed home matches in the Round of 16

EPCR Key dates

Knockout Stage Draws: Tuesday, March 9

Rounds of 16: April 2/3/4

Quarter-finals: April 9/10/11

Semi-finals: April 30-May 1/2

Challenge Cup Final: Marseille – Friday, May 21

Heineken Champions Cup Final: Marseille – Saturday, May 22