EPCR Introduces New Multi-Pool Format for 2023/24 Season, Promising Increased Jeopardy and Excitement
EPCR, in collaboration with the Leagues and Unions, has announced an exciting return to a multi-pool format for the 2023/24 Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup. This strategic move aims to enhance the sporting jeopardy and deliver a thrilling experience for players, clubs, and supporters alike. Let’s explore the key details and changes that fans can look forward to in the upcoming tournaments.
EPCR and Leagues Collaborate to Enhance Competitions:
The decision to implement new tournament structures reflects EPCR’s commitment to engaging and captivating audiences, while also considering the preferences of stakeholders, broadcasters, and fans. The collaboration with the Ligue Nationale de Rugby, Premiership Rugby, and the United Rugby Championship has been instrumental in formulating these changes.
New Tournament Structures for Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup:
Both the Champions Cup and the EPCR Challenge Cup will feature four pool stage rounds and four knockout stage rounds, spanning over eight weekends of intense rugby action. The tournaments will culminate in the highly anticipated London 2024 finals, which will take place at the iconic Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in May.
Eight-week Schedule with Thrilling Pool and Knockout Stages:
Fans can expect an action-packed season as the clubs battle it out in their respective pools. The Champions Cup will witness 24 elite clubs competing across four pools of six, while the EPCR Challenge Cup will feature 18 clubs divided into three pools of six. Each club will face four different opponents home or away during the pool stages, amplifying the excitement and unpredictability.
EPCR Chairman’s Delight in Enhancing Fan Experience:
EPCR Chairman, Dominic McKay, expressed his satisfaction with the new formats, emphasizing the importance of creating tournaments that are easily understandable, engaging, and captivating for supporters. The ultimate objective is to enthrall both existing and new audiences, solidifying the competitions’ status as the pinnacle of professional club rugby.
Champions Cup: Elite Clubs Prepare for Intense Competition:
The Champions Cup will bring together the best of European rugby, with eight representatives each from the TOP 14, Gallagher Premiership, and BKT United Rugby Championship (URC). Notable qualifiers, such as Stade Rochelais, Saracens, and Munster Rugby, will feature in Tier 1, while the remaining 20 clubs will compete in Tier 2. A balanced draw and competitive pool stages will pave the way for thrilling matches throughout the season.
EPCR Challenge Cup: A Platform for Exciting Matchups:
The EPCR Challenge Cup will see 18 clubs battling for glory, including representatives from the URC, TOP 14, and the Premiership. Additionally, two invited clubs, soon to be announced, will join the competition. Three pools of six clubs will be formed, ensuring diverse matchups and reducing same-league encounters to a minimum. This format promises captivating clashes and a pathway for emerging talents to shine on the European stage.
Pool Stage Principles Ensure Balanced Competition:
To ensure fairness and competitiveness, several key principles have been established for the pool stage draw. Firstly, each pool will have a maximum of two clubs from the same league, promoting variety in matchups. Secondly, clubs from the same URC Shield and Premiership will be kept apart, guaranteeing diverse encounters. Lastly, fixtures will be structured to avoid matches between clubs from the same league, adding an extra layer of intrigue and excitement.
Knockout Stage Qualification and Eagerly Awaited Draws:
At the conclusion of the pool stage, the top four clubs from each pool in the Champions Cup will advance to the Round of 16. In contrast, the fifth-ranked club from each pool will secure a spot in the knockout stage of the EPCR Challenge Cup. The highly anticipated pool draws for both tournaments will take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday, June 21, adding to the excitement and anticipation surrounding the upcoming season.
Save the Date: Key Matches and Grand Finals at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium:
Mark your calendars for the key dates of the 2023/24 season. Round 1 of the tournaments will kick off on December 8-10, 2023, followed by three more thrilling rounds of pool stage matches. The Round of 16 is scheduled for April 5-7, 2024, leading up to the highly anticipated quarter-finals on April 12-14. The semi-finals will take place on May 3-5, setting the stage for the EPCR Challenge Cup final on May 24 and the Champions Cup final on May 25, both held at the iconic Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
In conclusion, the introduction of a multi-pool format for the 2023/24 Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup is set to deliver heightened sporting jeopardy, increased excitement, and captivating matchups throughout the season. EPCR’s commitment to engaging fans, collaborating with leagues, and prioritizing the fan experience ensures that these tournaments remain the pinnacle of professional club rugby. With the pool draws around the corner, rugby enthusiasts can eagerly anticipate the clash of the titans in the upcoming season.
2023/24 CHAMPIONS CUP QUALIFIERS
TOP 14 – Stade Rochelais, Stade Toulousain, Racing 92, Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Lyon, Stade Français Paris, RC Toulon, Aviron Bayonnais
GALLAGHER PREMIERSHIP – Saracens, Sale Sharks, Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints, Harlequins, Exeter Chiefs, Bath Rugby, Bristol Bears
BKT UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP – Munster Rugby, DHL Stormers, Leinster Rugby, Ulster Rugby, Glasgow Warriors, Vodacom Bulls, Connacht Rugby, Cardiff Rugby
2023/24 EPCR CHALLENGE CUP QUALIFIERS
BKT UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP – Cell C Sharks, Emirates Lions, Benetton Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby, Ospreys, Scarlets, Dragons RFC, Zebre Parma
TOP 14 – Castres Olympique, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Montpellier Herault Rugby, Section Paloise, USAP, Oyonnax Rugby
GALLAGHER PREMIERSHIP – Gloucester Rugby, Newcastle Falcons
INVITED – Two clubs to be confirmed