© Getty Images
Club News European Rugby statement
All nine stakeholders (listed below) are delighted to confirm that a Heads of Agreement ensuring the continuation and development of European club rugby competitions has been signed.
The parties have underlined their commitment to an invigorated competition which meets the requirements of all the parties involved. It is a truly meritocratic tournament, with appropriate division of finances, underpinned by a long-term agreement and strong governance, starting in the 2014/2015 season.
Three cross-border 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
Twenty clubs qualifying through the finishing positions in their leagues from the preceding season:
- Top six from TOP 14
- Top six from Premiership Rugby
- Top seven 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 seventh highest finishing club from TOP 14 and the seventh 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 seventh highest finishing club from TOP 14, the seventh highest finishing club from Premiership Rugby and the eighth and ninth highest finishing clubs from PRO 12 (or the two 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 two dates
- First date: the seventh club of TOP 14 versus eighth or ninth from PRO 12 and the seventh club of Premiership Rugby versus eighth or ninth from PRO 12. The matches will be played at the home venues of the TOP 14 and Premiership Rugby clubs.
- Second date: The two winners from the first matches. The venue will be selected by a draw.
European Rugby Challenge Cup qualification
- Twenty clubs, comprising 18 clubs from TOP 14, Premiership Rugby and PRO 12
- Two 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 nine weekends. The Pool phase will be through five Pools of four teams which will play each other home and away (six matches). The five Pool winners and the three best runners-up will qualify for the Quarter Finals. The Quarter Finals will be played at the home venues of the four 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 three blocks of two 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 eight and 12 teams from Tier 2 countries and Italian clubs as agreed by EPCR and FIRA-AER.
EPCR will be managed through a Board of Directors representing all parties and an Executive committee in charge of commercial matters and assisting with preparations of Board meetings. The EPCR Board shall have an Independent Chairman.
The EPCR Executive will comprise the Independent Chairman, Director-General, and three voting representatives, one from each of the leagues - namely the TOP 14, Premiership Rugby and PRO 12. The Director-General shall manage the day to day operations of EPCR.
Competitions will be under the aegis of the IRB and run according to the IRB Laws Relating to the Game and IRB Regulations. The parties have also agreed to form a working party to discuss and propose the principles of an integration of European competitions within an all-encompassing European rugby framework.
A minimum eight-year agreement
Equal distribution of funds i.e. A third to TOP 14 teams, a third to Premiership Rugby teams and a third to PRO 12 teams, with a guaranteed minimum distribution for the clubs from the Pro12 in years 1-5.
The nine parties are: Federation Francaise de Rugby (FFR), Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR), The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), Ligue Nationale De Rugby (LNR), Premiership Rugby Ltd (PRL), Regional Rugby Wales Ltd (RRW), The Rugby Football Union (RFU), Scottish Rugby Union PLC (SRU) and The Welsh Rugby Union Ltd (WRU).
The parties take seriously their obligations to ERC and their staff and will ensure an orderly and proper transition to the new association.