2015/16 Champions Cup gets new play-off format

Organisers of the Rugby Champions Cup which has replaced the Heineken Cup have announced a revised play off format for the 2015/16 Champions Cup.

In order to facilitate fixture schedules in the Top 14, the Aviva Premiership and the PRO12, the Board of EPCR has agreed to revise the qualification play-off format for the 2015/16 European Rugby Champions Cup.

Nineteen clubs will qualify on merit for the 2015/16 tournament based on their finishing positions in the three leagues at the conclusion of the current season with the 20th place in the competition going to the play-off winners.

The new play-off format will get under way on 23 May 2015 with a match between the seventh-ranked club in the Aviva Premiership and the eighth-ranked club in the PRO12, or the highest ranked club not already qualified from the PRO12. Home advantage will be decided by a coin toss.

The winners of the Aviva Premiership v PRO12 match will then have home advantage the following weekend in the decisive play-off tie against the seventh-ranked club in the Top 14 on Saturday, 30 May 2015.

“With this revised Champions Cup play-off format, we have respected the wishes of the three leagues,” said EPCR Director General, Jacques Pineau.

“The Board of EPCR has agreed an alteration to the initial format in the tournament Heads of Agreement, and we are confident that the play-offs will enhance what promises to be an exciting season of European professional club rugby.”

This season’s inaugural Champions Cup will be made up of five pools of four with the pool winners and the three highest-ranked runners-up securing spots in the quarter-finals.

The 20th European season will kick off on Thursday, 16 October when Gloucester Rugby meet Brive in Pool 5 the Challenge Cup, with Harlequins and Castres Olympique heralding in the Champions Cup on Friday, 17 October.

2015/16 EUROPEAN RUGBY CHAMPIONS CUP PLAY-OFFS

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Match 1: Aviva Premiership (seventh-ranked club) v PRO12 (eighth-ranked club or highest ranked club not already qualified)
Home advantage to be decided by toss of coin

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Winner of Match 1 v Top 14 (seventh-ranked club)
Winner of Match 1 will have home advantage

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