European Champions Cup to kick off in November

Europe’s Rugby Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup will kick off in the middle of November later this year due to the Rugby World Cup which finishes in October.

The first two rounds of the two European rugby union annual competitions will be played on November 12-15, at a time usually devoted to the Autumn tests.

The end-of-year internationals between the Northern and Southern hemispheres will not take place because of the World Cup, hosted in England from September 18 to October 31.

The tournaments will then revert to their customary dates in December and January with the quarter-finals and semi-finals set for April and the finals on the weekend of May 13-14.

In order to avoid fixture congestion during May, the play-offs will have a shortened format and will feature only one club from each of the English Premiership, the French Top 14 and the Celtic Pro 12.

On top of that, there will be no play-offs for the 2016-17 Champions Cup with the 20th place in the tournament going to the winner of the 2016 Challenge Cup if not already qualified.

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