The future of European rugby is now clear after months of speculation ended recently with an agreement between the relevant parties, resulting in the new European Rugby Champions Cup. Here is a breakdown of how things will work from next season.
For some time now the English and French clubs had expressed their unhappiness with the format of the Heineken Cup, culminating in talks of them intending to dispand and set up their own tournament in September of last year.
After months of talks, we’re at the point where everyone is on the same page, and the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup (second tier) were signed on.
The two major players in the TV rights, BT Sport and Sky Sports have agreed to share coverage.
The tournament, run by the newly formed European Professional Club Rugby, will feature 20 teams.
European Rugby Champions Cup qualification:
20 clubs qualifying through the finishing positions in their leagues from the preceding season:
– top 6 from TOP 14
– top 6 from Premiership Rugby
– top 7 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 (first season different to following)
The format and finer points of the tournament/s are a bit more complicated, but that’s the basic premise and this new video from BT Sport explains things quite clearly. As we get nearer the time, we will go through other facets of it, but for now it looks like it’s a positive step in the right direction.
What do you think of the new qualification setup?