EDINBURGH will compete in the knock-out stages of the Heineken Champions Cup this season as one of the eight highest ranked teams in their pool at the time the pool stage was suspended, while Glasgow Warriors will compete in the last 16 of the second-tier European Challenge Cup, it has been confirmed.
The draw for both competitions will take place on 9th March, and the matches will be played on the weekend 2nd to 4th April.
In a year which has produced more complications in every facet of life than ever before, tournament organisers EPCR have kept the theme going with a convoluted set of parameters for the draw, which is aimed at ensuring fairness and to keep the matches fresh, but is pretty hard to understand.
For the purposes of the draw, clubs from the same league cannot be drawn against one another, however, clubs from either pool can be drawn against one another.
A further agreed key principle of the Heineken Champions Cup draw will ensure that clubs which have won both pool stage matches on the pitch – ie. where results were not impacted by COVID-19 – will play at home in the Round of 16. Therefore, Racing 92, Leinster Rugby, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles and Munster Rugby will each be guaranteed a home fixture.
The clubs which are not drawn against either Racing 92, Leinster, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles or Munster will have their opponents, and whether they will be playing at home or away, determined as part of the draw.
Regarding the Challenge Cup, the eight highest-ranked clubs from the preliminary stage at the time of the suspension of the tournament and the eight clubs which have not qualified for the knockout stage of Heineken Champions Cup will compete in the Round of 16.
For the purposes of the draw, clubs from the same league cannot be drawn against one another, however, Challenge Cup clubs and Heineken Champions Cup clubs can be drawn against one another.
Clubs which have won both Challenge Cup preliminary stage matches on the pitch – ie. where results were not impacted by COVID-19 – will play at home in the Round of 16. Therefore, London Irish, Ospreys and Leicester Tigers will each be guaranteed a home fixture.
The clubs which are not drawn against either London Irish, Ospreys or Leicester Tigers will have their opponents, and whether they will be playing at home or away, determined as part of the draw.
It has also been agreed that open draws will take place to determine the quarter-finals in both the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, allowing for the possibility of matches between clubs from the same league.
The draws for the quarter-finals will take place immediately after the Rounds of 16 draws on Tuesday, 9 March. Further details regarding the event which will be streamed live on epcrugby.com will be communicated early next month.
2020/21 KNOCKOUT STAGE QUALIFIERS:
Heineken Champions Cup: Racing 92, Leinster Rugby, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles, Munster Rugby, Lyon, Toulouse, La Rochelle, Scarlets, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Bristol Bears, Exeter Chiefs, Edinburgh Rugby, Gloucester Rugby, RC Toulon, Sale Sharks
NB: Racing 92, Leinster, Wasps, Bordeaux-Bègles and Munster are guaranteed home matches in the Round of 16
Challenge Cup: London Irish, Ospreys, Leicester Tigers, Cardiff Blues, Zebre Rugby Club, Agen, Benetton Rugby, Newcastle Falcons, Ulster Rugby, Connacht Rugby, Northampton Saints, Bath Rugby, Montpellier, Dragons, Harlequins, Glasgow Warriors
NB: London Irish, Ospreys and Leicester Tigers are guaranteed home matches in the Round of 16
EPCR KEY DATES:
Knockout Stage Draws: Tuesday 9 March
Rounds of 16: 2/3/4 April
Quarter-finals: 9/10/11 April
Semi-finals: 30 April – 1/2 May
Challenge Cup final: Marseille – Friday, 21 May
Heineken Champions Cup final: Marseille – Saturday, 22 May