URC’s Champions Cup qualification criteria returns to pure meritocracy

Top eight teams in the league table will earn places in Europe's top tier competition next season

Both Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors now know that they must each finish in the top eight of the URC this season to qualify for next season's Champions Cup. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Both Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors now know that they must each finish in the top eight of the URC this season to qualify for next season's Champions Cup. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

THE criteria for qualification from the URC into next season’s European Champions Cup has changed back to the traditional model of rewarding the teams which finish highest up the table regardless of which country that team comes from.

In a change to the previous two seasons, all eight top-ranked teams from the league table will qualify for the Champions Cup with the remaining sides taking their place in the EPCR Challenge Cup.  The winners of the regional Shields will no longer be awarded a place into the Champions Cup.

Should a URC team win the Champions or Challenge Cups without finishing among the top-ranked teams in the league table, they will receive a place in the Champions Cup. In such an event, the team that finishes eighth in BKT URC will be placed into the EPCR Challenge Cup.


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At the end of the 2021-22 season, Glasgow Warriors missed out on Champions Cup qualification despite finishing eighth in the URC because the ninth placed Ospreys team took their place by winning the Welsh Shield. This will not happen in the 2023-24 campaign.

“The first two seasons of BKT URC set records for audiences and attendances thanks to the appeal and jeopardy of the league,” said Martin Anayi, CEO of the United Rugby Championship. “Returning to straight meritocracy as a qualification method for the Investec Champions Cup will further turn up the dial on the competitiveness of our league.

“The debate between representation and meritocracy in our league has always been a complex discussion among our stakeholders. However, when it comes to creating the most competitive arena for our teams, meritocracy is a proven method for achieving this.

“In 2017 we brought in full meritocracy over representation in the PRO12 and this lifted the level of competition throughout the league. When launching BKT URC against the backdrop of the pandemic it was prudent to choose the representative qualification route and now after the review our stakeholders have opted to return to meritocracy.”


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About David Barnes 3912 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

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