All nine yesterday confirmed that a Heads of Agreement ensuring the continuation and development of European club rugby competitions had been signed. The parties have underlined their commitment to an invigorated competition which meets the requirements of all the parties involved. The competition will start in the 2014/2015 season.
From a Munster perspective, European Rugby Champions Cup qualification is dependent on a top 7 finish in the PRO 12, with at least one club from each country participating in the league. Munster have already secured a top 7 place and with it participation in the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup. In total three new cross border club competitions will come into effect for the 2014/2015 season.
3 club competitions to be called The European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup and a new competition called the Qualifying Competition.
An association shall be established in Switzerland called 'European Professional Club Rugby' (EPCR). This body will be responsible for organising and managing the Cup Competitions.
European Rugby Champions Cup qualification:
- 20 clubs qualifying through the finishing positions in their leagues from the preceding season:
- top 6 from TOP 14- top 6 from Premiership Rugby
- top 7 from PRO 12, with at least one club from each country participating in the league
- the 20th place will be taken by the winner of a play off between:
For the 1st season: The 7th highest finishing club from TOP 14 and the 7th highest finishing club from Premiership Rugby. This play off will be played in May 2014, either as one match (in which case, there will be a draw for home advantage) or as home/away.
For subsequent seasons: The 7th highest finishing club from TOP 14, the 7th highest finishing club from Premiership Rugby and the 8th and 9th highest finishing clubs from PRO 12 (or the 2 highest finishing which have not already qualified automatically).
From 2015 season, if the previous season's European Rugby Challenge Cup winner has not already qualified through its finishing position in its league, it will participate in the play off by taking a place given to its league.
The play off will take place over 2 dates.
- 1st date: 7th club of TOP 14 versus 8th or 9th from PRO 12 and the 7th club of Premiership Rugby versus 8th or 9th from PRO 12. The matches will be played at the home venues of the TOP 14 and Premiership Rugby clubs.
- 2nd date: The 2 winners from the first matches. The venue will be selected by a draw.
European Rugby Challenge Cup qualification:
- 20 clubs comprising 18 clubs from TOP 14, Premiership Rugby and PRO 12
- 2 clubs from the qualifying competition organised with FIRA-AER (Fédération Internationale de Rugby Amateur - Association Européenne de Rugby)
Format of both Competitions:
The competition will take place over 9 weekends. The Pool phase will be through 5 Pools of 4 teams which will play each other home and away (6 matches). The 5 Pool winners and the 3 best runners up will qualify for the Quarter Finals. The Quarter Finals will be played at the home venues of the 4 best Pool winners. The Quarter Final winners will play the Semi Finals and the Semi Final winners will play the Final.
Calendar of both Competitions:
The Pool phase will be played in 3 blocks of 2 weekends and will be completed by the end of January. The Final will take place latest the first weekend of May.
The Qualifying Competition will compromise between 8 and 12 teams from Tier 2 countries and Italian clubs as agreed by EPCR & FIRA-AER.