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Dublin: 9°C Saturday 15 May 2021

Pro14 clarify how Leinster can smooth Ulster's path into next season's Champions Cup

The northern province could reach next season’s tournament without the need of a playoff, but they will need a few results to go their way this weekend.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THERE ARE QUITE a few moving parts that have to fall their way yet, but the Guinness Pro14 today clarified that Ulster will qualify for next season’s Champions Cup if the tournament earns an eighth place from a Leinster victory in the final.

From the beginning of the season, the Pro14 was guaranteed seven places in next season’s Champions Cup with the top three (eligible / non-South African) teams in each Conference securing automatic passage and the seventh berth put down to a playoff between the next-best ranked teams from each conference.

Ulster and Ospreys currently occupy those Champions Cup playoff positions, but if the league is awarded an extra place then Ulster will be awarded the seventh qualifying berth without playing again this season.

Ospreys would instead travel to Treviso to play Benetton for the eighth and final place.

This is all dependent on an eighth place being awarded to the Pro14, which will only happen if (A) Leinster win the Champions Cup and (B) all four Challenge Cup semi-finalists (Pau, Gloucester, Newcastle and Cardiff) qualify for the Champions Cup via league position.

Three of the four Challenge Cup semi-finalists currently occupy a top-six spot needed to qualify from either the Top14 or Premiership.  Pau, currently seventh in the Top14 on 62 points, could still force their way up the table if they can beat Toulon at home in the final round of fixtures this weekend.

However, Pau’s rivals in the shake-up for those top six places in France (Lyon (66 points) Castres (64) La Rochelle (62)) also play on home turf this weekend.

There is a further complication in the Premiership as Gloucester’s main rival for sixth place, Sale, are only two points behind them and the Cherry and Whites will end the regular season away to Saracens this weekend.

Gloucester could still qualify for the Champions Cup if they finish outside the top six, by beating Cardiff Blues in the Challenge Cup final on 11 May.

Fixtures for Ulster fans to keep an eye on this Saturday

prem Current Premiership table, points totals on right.

KO 16.00:

Sale Sharks v Leicester

Saracens v Gloucester

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Bath Rugby v London Irish

op14 st Current Top14 standings, points totals on left.

KO: 20.00

Lyon v Montpellier

Castres v Oyonnax

La Rochelle v Stade Francais

Pau v Toulon

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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