GLASGOW WARRIORS’ involvement in the 2021-22 Heineken Champions Cup has been confirmed. They are ranked eighth out of the eight PRO14 teams in the competition draw, meaning that they are likely to face some tough matches against an assortment of the leading sides in Europe when the fixture schedule is unveiled on a yet to be announced date.
As it stands, the top eight teams from the PRO14, the Gallagher Premiership and the French Top14 will each qualify for next year’s Heineken Cup. The English and French rankings will be confirmed after their respective seasons end in two weekends’ time.
It had been widely expected that Warriors would be involved in the Champions Cup next season after they finished fourth in their PRO14 conference this season, but a number of factors related to Covid and the possibility of South African sides joining the competition meant that it was not guaranteed until the PRO14 (in the process of being rebranded the United Rugby Championship) issued a statement earlier this afternoon.
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The rankings of the PRO14/United Rugby Championship clubs in next year’s Champions Cup are as follows:
- Leinster 71 match points (league champions)
- Munster 64 match points (won 14, points difference +163) Finalists always ranked 1 & 2 regardless of final standing in tables
- Ulster 64 points (won 14, +206)
- Connacht 45 points
- Scarlets 39 points
- Ospreys 36 points (won 8, -17)
- Cardiff Rugby 36 points (won 8, -19)
- Glasgow Warriors 30 points
While the exact formats for next season of both the Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup (featuring Edinburgh) have not yet been released, a list of key dates was published at lunchtime today [Wednesday].
2021/22 EPCR weekends:
- Round 1 – 10/11/12 December
- Round 2 – 17/18/19 December
- Round 3 – 14/15/16 January 2022
- Round 4 – 21/22/23 January 2022
- Round of 16 (1st leg) – 8/9/10 April 2022
- Round of 16 (2nd leg) – 15/16/17 April 2022
- Quarter-finals – 6/7/8 May 2022
- Semi-finals – 13/14/15 May 2022
- Challenge Cup final – Friday 27 May 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
- Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 28 May 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
“As professional rugby in Europe begins to emerge from a hugely challenging period for clubs and fans alike, EPCR is currently finalising details of a new shareholder agreement including new and improved tournament formats for the 2022-23 season and beyond,” said the press release.
“Ahead of the announcement of that agreement at a future date, 2021-22 will see some modifications to the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup formats.
“Discussions to finalise all details of the formats for next season, and future seasons, within the framework of the new shareholder agreement, are ongoing, and these discussions include the future participation of South African clubs in EPCR’s tournaments.”
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EPCR Chief Executive Vincent Gaillard added: “As we put the finishing touches to a brand new shareholder agreement which promises to be positive for everyone involved in our tournaments, we are continuing to refine and develop the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, and next season will see a return to a full series of massively exciting and competitive matches across Europe.”
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In my view Glasgow are improving all the time and are already better than some of those Pro 14 teams ranked above them. And I am confident they will prove it too. The European competition is an elite event and we should not fret about who they get in the draw. What will be, will be – and it’s great to be involved. Am also looking forward to our young guns proving what they can do on tour, for it provides great opportunities for the new wave and hopefully will be the making of them. A hard edge to take forward into Europe this year, whoever awaits.