Stormers and Bulls in top tier for a favourable Champions Cup draw
Their qualification for the URC final works to the advantage of the top two SA teams
The Stormers and Bulls will benefit from their top-tier ranking when the draw for next season’s Champions Cup is made on June 28.
The 2022-23 Champions Cup will be contested by 24 clubs with eight representatives from the United Rugby Championship (URC) including the Stormers, Bulls and Sharks, plus eight representatives from the English Premiership and eight from the French Top 14.
The Stormers and Bulls by virtue of their qualification for the final of the URC will go into the draw as Tier One teams along with the top two qualifiers from the Premiership and the Top 14.
The clubs will be divided into two pools of 12 (Pool A and Pool B) and the tournament will be played over eight weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage starting next December when Stade Rochelais (La Rochelle) begin the defence of their title.
The eight highest-ranked clubs from each pool will qualify for the knockout stage, which will consist of a last-16, quarterfinals, semifinals and showpiece final at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on May 23 2023.
The draw for the Champions Cup pools will be carried out on the same lines as last season with the clubs separated into four tiers based on their rankings, and clubs from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn into the same pool.
The first and second-ranked clubs from each league will be in Tier 1, the third and fourth-ranked in Tier 2, fifth and sixth-ranked in Tier 3, and seventh and eighth-ranked in Tier 4.
The Tier 1 and the Tier 4 clubs drawn in the same pool, but that are not in the same league, will play one another home and away in the pool stage, as will the Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs drawn the same way.
Twenty clubs will play in next season’s EPCR Challenge Cup with eight representatives from the URC, including the Lions, six from the Top 14, five from the Premiership, plus the Cheetahs, who have accepted an invitation to compete.
2022-23 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
Premiership: Leicester Tigers, Saracens, 3 Harlequins, 4 Northampton Saints, 5 Gloucester Rugby, 6 Sale Sharks, 7 Exeter Chiefs, 8 London Irish
URC: Stormers, Bulls, 3 Leinster Rugby, 4 Ulster Rugby, 5 Sharks, 6 Munster Rugby, 7 Edinburgh Rugby, 8 Ospreys
2022-23 EPCR Challenge Cup qualifiers
URC: 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
Premiership: 1 Wasps, 2 Bristol Bears, 3 Worcester Warriors, 4 Newcastle Falcons, 5 Bath Rugby. Invited: Cheetahs
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