EPCR has announced that there will be a new Champions Cup format for the 2020/21 season. The new format will be used for just next season due to a fixture schedule disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The cup will be competed for by 24 clubs with the eight highest-ranked representatives from the Gallagher Premiership, the Guinness PRO14 and the TOP 14 securing their places.
That means Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht have all qualified for the tournament.
The clubs will be divided into two pools of 12 by means of a draw and the tournament will be played over eight weekends. Teams will played four matches in the pool stage, two at home and two away.
That will be followed by a knockout stage consisting of quarter-finals played over two legs, single-leg semi-finals and a final in Marseille on 22 May 2021.
For the purposes of the pool draw, the clubs will be separated into tiers, and clubs from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn into the same pool.
The number one and number two ranked clubs from each league will be in Tier 1, the number three and number four ranked clubs will be in Tier 2, the number five and six ranked clubs will be in Tier 3, and the number seven and number eight ranked clubs will be 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.
The four highest-ranked clubs in each pool will qualify for the quarter-finals, and the clubs ranked numbers five to eight in each pool will compete in the knockout stage of the Challenge Cup.
Clubs qualified for 2020/21 Heineken Champions Cup
PRO14: Leinster Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby, Munster Rugby, Ulster Rugby, Scarlets, Glasgow Warriors, Connacht Rugby, Dragons (Rankings TBC at conclusion of current season)
TOP 14: Bordeaux-Bègles, Lyon, Racing 92, RC Toulon, La Rochelle, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Toulouse, *Montpellier or Castres Olympique
Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile