Follow the latest updates live from the Heineken Champions Cup draw as Europe’s top 24 clubs learn their fate for the 2020/21 season.
Eight Premiership teams go into the hat for the draw, which will feature a new ‘exceptional’ format for the 2020/21 campaign as the regular five-pool structure is replaced by two pools of 12 teams, with each club to play four times against sides outside of their own domestic league.
Confused? Don’t be. We’ll take you through the full format and who can play who ahead of the draw, which will be released by European Professional Club Rugby at 3pm GMT as Exeter Chiefs, Wasps, Bristol Bears, Bath, Sale Sharks, Gloucester, Harlequins and Northampton Saints all learn their European opponents for the season ahead. Follow the live updates below.
HOW DOES THE DRAW WORK?
The 24 teams will be split into two pools of 12, with a four-tier system set to decide the four pool games for each club.
Two teams from each league will be placed in each tier, meaning the first and second seeds from each league go into Tier One and the third and fourth seeds enter Tier Two (and so on), and they will be split across the two pools to ensure they cannot play each other. Tier One teams will play the two Tier Four teams not from their league in home and away fixtures, while Tier Two teams will do the same with Tier Three teams.
After the four rounds have been played, the top four in each pool will qualifying for the quarter-finals, which will be played over two legs home and away, before one-off semi-finals at a neutral venue will decide who reaches the final. Clubs who finish between fifth and eighth in the pools will drop down to the Challenge Cup knockout stage.
CHAMPIONS CUP DRAW
The draw for the Heineken Champions Cup takes place in Lausanne on Wednesday as 24 teams go into the hat for the 2020/21 European campaign, which will see a new format introduced complete with home-and-away knockout matches.
Reigning champions Exeter Chiefs may have only just been crowned conquerors of Europe, but they immediately learn their opposition for the upcoming season, which is set to begin in December and run through to the end of May when it’s hoped the final can take place in Marseille after last season’s rescheduled events.
It’s hoped that the new format will help bring a more continental feel to the tournament, with the avoidance of any domestic matches during the pool stage as clubs will not play a team from the same league.
Exeter go into the draw as one of eight Premiership teams, joining eight apiece from the Pro14 and Top14, and find themselves in Tier One alongside fellow Premiership finalists Wasps as well as European heavyweights Leinster.
With the seedings based on league finishing positions, there are a fair few sleeping giants placed further down the tiers, with Toulouse, Clermont Auvergne and Glasgow Warriors the teams to avoid.
CHAMPIONS CUP DRAW
Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the Champions Cup draw, with 24 teams set to go into the hat as the 2020/21 European campaign is unveiled.
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