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EPCR confirm 2022/23 tournament formats and qualifiers

Following the announcement of the inclusion of South African clubs in its tournaments, EPCR confirmed the formats and qualifiers for next season’s expanded Heineken Champions Cup on Monday – with Northampton Saints set to face Stade Rochelais or Racing 92 and Sharks or Munster Rugby in the pool stages.

The 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup will be competed for by 24 elite clubs with eight representatives from the United Rugby Championship (URC) – including historic first appearances by the Stormers, Bulls and Sharks – as well as eight representatives from the Gallagher Premiership and eight from the TOP 14.

The clubs will be divided into two pools of 12, and the tournament will be played over eight weekends with the first of four pool matches starting next December. The eight highest-ranked clubs from each pool will then qualify for the knockout stages of a Round of 16, Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and the showpiece Final at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on 20 May 2023. 

EPCR will be hosting the draw for the Champions Cup pools – streamed live from the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday 28 June – following the same format as last season's draws, where clubs will be separated into four tiers based on their league rankings and clubs from the same league in the same tier cannot be drawn into the same pool. 

As the fourth ranked side from the Gallagher Premiership this season, Saints will be placed into Tier 2 alongside Harlequins and will face-off with sides placed in Tier 3 of the TOP 14 and URC championships in both home and away matches during the pool stages.

This means under the format for next term, the men in Black, Green and Gold could be drawn against current champions Stade Rochelais or familiar foes Racing from the TOP 14 and either incoming South African side Sharks or two-time Champions Cup winners Munster from the URC. 

EPCR will communicate further details and timings regarding the draws for both the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup pools in the coming weeks.

2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup Qualifiers

TOP 14: Castres Olympique, Montpellier Hérault Rugby, Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Stade Toulousain, 5 Stade Rochelais, 6 Racing 92, 7 ASM Clermont Auvergne, 8 Lyon

Gallagher Premiership: Leicester Tigers, Saracens, 3 Harlequins, 4 Northampton Saints, 5 Gloucester Rugby, 6 Sale Sharks, 7 Exeter Chiefs, 8 London Irish

United Rugby Championship: Stormers, Bulls, 3 Leinster Rugby, 4 Ulster Rugby, 5 Sharks, 6 Munster Rugby, 7 Edinburgh Rugby, 8 Ospreys

2022/23 EPCR Challenge Cup Qualifiers

United Rugby Championship: 1 Glasgow Warriors, 2 Scarlets, 3 Connacht Rugby, 4 Lions, 5 Benetton Rugby, 6 Cardiff Rugby, 7 Dragons, 8 Zebre Parma

TOP 14: 1 RC Toulon, 2 Section Paloise, 3 Stade Français Paris, 4 CA Brive, 5 Aviron Bayonnais, 6 USAP 

Gallagher Premiership: 1 Wasps, 2 Bristol Bears, 3 Worcester Warriors, 4 Newcastle Falcons, 5 Bath Rugby

Invited: Cheetahs 

2022/23 EPCR Key Dates

Round 1: 9/10/11 December 2022
Round 2: 16/17/18 December 2022
Round 3: 13/14/15 January 2023
Round 4: 20/21/22 January 2023
Round of 16: 31 March/ 1/2 April 2023
Quarter-finals: 7/8/9 April 2023
Semi-finals: 28/29/30 April 2023
EPCR Challenge Cup Final: Friday 19 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Heineken Champions Cup Final: Saturday 20 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin

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