Northampton Saints will progress into the Challenge Cup Round of 16 knock-out stages, after EPCR today announced revised tournament formats for the 2020/21 season.
Following discussions with shareholder leagues and unions, both tournaments will resume with a Round of 16 on the weekend of 2/3/4 April and the knock-out stages will continue with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the scheduled Marseille finals on EPCR's previously allocated weekends in April and May.
The eight highest-ranked clubs from Pools A and B of the Heineken Champions Cup have qualified for the Round of 16, while the eight clubs who did not qualify instead move into the Challenge Cup knock-out stages.
With Saints currently sitting in ninth place in Pool A, Chris Boyd’s side will join Bath, Montpellier, Dragons, Ulster, Connacht, Harlequins and Glasgow Warriors in moving from the Champions Cup into the Challenge Cup Round of 16.
The Round of 16 and quarter-final matches in both tournaments will now be decided in a live draw on Tuesday 9 March; clubs who won both of their Challenge Cup fixtures in the preliminary rounds are guaranteed to play their Round of 16 fixture at home, while Saints’ opposition and venue will be decided as part of the draw.
Northampton cannot face a Gallagher Premiership side in the Round of 16 but could face another English side should they progress to the quarter-finals – with the draw for those match-ups and home advantages taking place immediately after the Rounds of 16 have been drawn.
2020/21 EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP KNOCKOUT STAGE QUALIFIERS
Challenge Cup – London Irish, Ospreys, Leicester Tigers, Cardiff Blues, Zebre Rugby Club, Agen, Benetton Rugby, Newcastle Falcons, Ulster Rugby, Connacht Rugby, Northampton Saints, Bath Rugby, Montpellier, Dragons, Harlequins, Glasgow Warriors
NB London Irish, Ospreys and Leicester Tigers are guaranteed home matches in the Round of 16
EPCR KEY DATES
Knockout Stage Draws: Tuesday 9 March
Rounds of 16: 2/3/4 April
Quarter-finals: 9/10/11 April
Semi-finals: 30 April – 1/2 May
Challenge Cup final: Marseille – Friday 21 May
Heineken Champions Cup final: Marseille – Saturday 22 May