Challenge Cup pools and fixtures announced

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Ahead of the December kick-off of the European club season, EPCR has announce a rebrand of the Challenge Cup

It will be officially renamed the ‘EPCR Challenge Cup’. This new look and feel have emerged following feedback from fans worldwide and EPCR has stepped up to create an enduring identity for the future.

Content strands celebrating diversity, embracing inclusion, and promoting accessibility. It will be available primarily on a new fan-focused tournament Instagram account epcr_challengecup and this will complement additional material on EPCR’s other social media channels as well as on epcrugby.com.

The rebrand is aimed at engaging a new generation of rugby fans while acknowledging the established supporters of the tournament since its inception in 1996.

How will the new Challenge Cup play out?

A modified format for the 2021/22 season will see 15 clubs with 10 European titles between them competing in three pools of five. Three-time finalists, RC Toulon, two-time winners, Gloucester Rugby, and Saracens, are among the favorites to lift silverware in Marseille next May.

Another former Challenge Cup winner, Biarritz Olympique, is making a welcome return to European competition after an absence of seven years.

The clubs were allocated into three pools based on their rankings from last season’s leagues and the pool stage will be played over five rounds starting on the 10th December and finishing on the weekend 10th April 2022.

A Round of 16 will be played on the weekend of 17th April 2022, followed by quarterfinals and semi-finals, with the final at the Stade Vélodrome, Marseille on 27 May 2022.

One club in each pool will have a bye during each round. A limited number of fixtures will see clubs playing against opponents from the same league.

The three highest-ranked clubs from each pool, and the highest-ranked fourth-placed club, as well as the three clubs, ranked nine to 11 from each of the Heineken Champions Cup pools, will qualify for the Round of 16.

The exact dates of the pool stage fixtures, as well as kick-off times and TV coverage, will be announced shortly.

2021/2022 EPCR Challenge Cup Pools

Pool A

RC Toulon, Newcastle Falcons, Zebre Rugby Club, Worcester Warriors, Biarritz Olympique

Pool B

Dragons, Lyon, Gloucester Rugby, Benetton Rugby, USAP

Pool C

London Irish, Edinburgh Rugby, CA Brive, Section Paloise, Saracens

 

2021/22 weekends

First Round – 10/11/12 December

Second Round – 17/18/19 December

Third Round – 14/15/16 January 2022

Fourth Round – 21/22/23 January 2022

Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 (1st leg) and EPCR Challenge Cup Round 5 – 8/9/10 April 2022

Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 (2nd leg) and EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16 – 15/16/17 April 2022

Quarter-finals – 6/7/8 May 2022

Semi-finals – 13/14/15 May 2022

EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday 27 May 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille

Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 28 May 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille

 

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