From next season the knock-out stages of the European Challenge Cup, will feature three sides that have been eliminated from the Heineken Cup. The third, fourth and fifth ranked Heineken Cup Pool runners-up will continue their European season, facing away ties in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
And in another change, the winners of the Heineken Cup and Challenge Cup will secure an extra Heineken Cup berth for their country. The winners of both Heineken and Challenege Cup will automatically secure passage in to the following season's Heineken Cup and in addition each will also earn an extra place - over and above their guaranteed allocations.
However, England and France, who have six automatic places, will only be allowed a maximum of seven teams, so if either country wins both the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup the second additional spot will pass on to the club with the highest ERC European Ranking who has not already qualified from any of the other five nations.
In the final change, ERC have also changed the ranking system for the Challenge Cup, with the winners now securing six ranking points instead of the previous five.
New European Challenge Cup quarter-finals system:
1 ECC 1 (Top ranked ECC Pool winner)
2 ECC 2 (Second ranked ECC Pool winner)
3 ECC 3 (Third ranked ECC Pool winner)
4 ECC 4 (Fourth ranked ECC Pool winner)
5 Heineken Cup 1
6 Heineken Cup 2
7 Heineken Cup 3
8 ECC 5 (Fifth Ranked ECC Pool winner)
1 (ECC 1) v 8 (ECC 5)
2 (ECC 2) v 7 (Heineken Cup 3)
3 (ECC 3) v 6 (Heineken Cup 2)
4 (ECC 4) v 5 (Heineken Cup 1)