MURRAYFIELD STADIUM could now host a Heineken Champions Cup semi-final clash between Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors if (and it’s a big ‘if’) both clubs win their respective quarter-final matches, after a change of policy by tournament organisers EPCR.
The headquarters of Scottish Rugby was initially ruled out as a possible venue because Edinburgh play their regular season matches there and competition rules state that the higher seeded club in the draw is entitled to home country advantage but not home venue advantage. However, a statement issued by EPCR earlier today revealed that the organisation has now re-thought that protocol after consultation with its key stakeholders (i.e. the unions involved).
The statement explained –
Following a recent meeting, the EPCR Board has decided to use its full discretion in selecting appropriate venues for Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals matches.
With key elements such as stadium capacity, commercial viability, operational suitability and location remaining paramount for the high-profile matches, EPCR will continue to designate the venues in conjunction with the recommendations of its stakeholders.
As a number of clubs now own or control premium venues which befit the status of a Heineken Champions Cup semi-final, EPCR will also consider the possibility of staging a semi-final at a home stadium of a qualified club.
Regarding the current season, the suitability of BT Murrayfield as a venue should Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors be scheduled to meet in Semi-final 1 of the Heineken Champions Cup will be assessed, while the 32,000-capacity Paris La Défense Arena will be considered along with other stadiums in France should Racing 92 qualify for Semi-final 2 on the weekend of 20/21 April.
This use of full discretion in selecting Heineken Champions Cup semi-final venues does not require any change to the governing rules and regulations of EPCR and, as in previous seasons, continues to recognise performances during the pool stage with the highest-ranked clubs earning home country advantage in their respective semi-final matches.
The selected semi-final venue options in England, France, Ireland and Scotland will be announced at a later date.
2018-19 Heineken Champions Cup semi-final permutations –
Semi-final One – winner of QF 1: Saracens v Glasgow Warriors will play the winner of QF 2: Edinburgh Rugby v Munster Rugby
Semi-final Two – winner of QF 3: Leinster Rugby v Ulster Rugby will play the winner of QF 4: Racing 92 v Toulouse
The semi-final matches will be played at venues designated by EPCR, and the following clubs will have home country advantage in their respective matches:
If Saracens (ranked No 1) and Edinburgh Rugby (ranked No 4) win their quarter-finals, Saracens will have home country advantage
If Saracens (ranked No 1) and Munster Rugby (ranked No 5) win their quarter-finals, Saracens will have home country advantage
If Edinburgh Rugby (ranked No 4) and Glasgow Warriors (ranked No 8) win their quarter-finals, the semi-final will be played in Scotland
If Munster Rugby (ranked No 5) and Glasgow Warriors (ranked No 8) win their quarter-finals, Munster will have home country advantage
If Racing 92 (ranked No 2) and Leinster Rugby (ranked No 3) win their quarter-finals, Racing 92 will have home country advantage
If Racing 92 (ranked No 2) and Ulster Rugby (ranked No 6) win their quarter-finals, Racing 92 will have home country advantage
If Leinster Rugby (ranked No 3) and Toulouse (ranked No 7) win their quarter-finals, Leinster will have home country advantage
If Ulster Rugby (ranked No 6) and Toulouse (ranked No 7) win their quarter-finals, Ulster will have home country advantage
Semi-finals: 19/20/21 April
2019 Heineken Champions Cup final: Saturday, 11 May; St James’ Park, Newcastle (17.00)
On a separate note, EPCR has reassured the clubs which have qualified for the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup that a registered player who is a citizen of the United Kingdom will be considered as a European Player for the purposes of the tournaments as far as the remainder of the 2018-19 season is concerned.
EPCR is also considering a number of minor rule changes which would resolve the issue of European Player status for future seasons.