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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 13 April 2021

EPCR looking at possible 24-team Champions Cup for next season

Eight clubs from each of the leagues would qualify and the competition would be played over eight weekends.

EPCR HAS CONFIRMED that it is examining the possibility of a 24-team Heineken Champions Cup “on an exceptional basis” for next season.

The Champions Cup has involved only 20 teams in recent seasons but EPCR is now examining different ways of including more clubs given that the 2019/20 domestic campaigns remain unfinished.

champions-cup-trophy Leinster were Champions Cup winners in 2018. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

French clubs had indicated they would consider a boycott of the competition next season if they were now allowed eight entrants, rather than the usual six. Toulouse and Montpellier both sat outside the top six of the Top 14 when the season was cancelled.

In a statement his evening, ECPR says a 24-team Champions Cup would involve eight teams each from the Pro14, English Premiership and French Top 14. 

The competition would be played out over the course of eight match weekends during the 2020/21 campaign.

There is no official indication yet as to the possible exact format of the competition in terms of how many teams would go into each pool.

EPCR has also confirmed once again that it remains committed to making every effort to conclude the 2019/20 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup knock-out games, which remain suspended at the quarter-final stage.

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The organising body says it hopes to see the finals of the European competitions played on 16 and 17 October.

“As part of its future planning, and with the extraordinary circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic at the forefront, EPCR can confirm that a number of tournament formats are being considered for the 2020/21 season,” reads EPCR’s statement.

“Ongoing discussions with EPCR’s league and union shareholders regarding new formats have included the possibility of a 24-club Heineken Champions Cup with eight representatives from each of Europe’s leading league competitions, played over eight weekends.

“If adopted, any new format would apply to next season’s tournament only on an exceptional basis.

“In the meantime, EPCR remains committed to making every effort to conclude the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season subject to official advice and with the health and welfare of players, club staff, match officials, supporters and the wider rugby community in mind.

“It is hoped that the 2020 finals could be staged on 16 and 17 October.”

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Murray Kinsella

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