The Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup tournaments will see a number of format and qualification changes for 2009/10's season.
The alterations are aimed at enhancing the profile and stature of European club rugby's two showpiece tournaments, with 'more attractive matches for player, clubs, supporters and commercial partners' the reason given by ERC.
The changes include:
* Three Heineken Cup teams to qualify for the knock-out stages of the European Challenge Cup
* Revised ERC European Ranking from the European Challenge Cup
* Heineken Cup qualification changes
European Challenge Cup
The knockout stages of future European Challenge Cup tournaments will now include three teams who will qualify through the Heineken Cup.
The introduction of three teams who have finished as Pool runners-up in that seasons' Heineken Cup (the third, fourth and fifth ranked Heineken Cup Pool runners-up), to meet the five European Challenge Cup Pool winners, will enhance both the quality and profile of the European Challenge Cup knock-out matches.
The top four European Challenge Cup Pool winners will enjoy home advantage in the quarter-finals with the top Pool winner playing the side ranked fifth, while the other three Pool winners will welcome the Heineken Cup sides.
1 ECC 1 (Top ranked ECC Pool winner)
2 ECC 2 (Second ranked ECC Pool winner)
3 ECC 3 (Third ranked ECC Pool winner)
4 ECC 4 (Fourth ranked ECC Pool winner)
5 Heineken Cup 1
6 Heineken Cup 2
7 Heineken Cup 3
8 ECC 5 (Fifth Ranked ECC Pool winner)
1 (ECC 1) v 8 (ECC 5)
2 (ECC 2) v 7 (Heineken Cup 3)
3 (ECC 3) v 6 (Heineken Cup 2)
4 (ECC 4) v 5 (Heineken Cup 1)
European Challenge Cup semi-final pairings
European Challenge Cup teams to have home advantage, otherwise home advantage decided by draw.
Heineken Cup qualification
Another significant boost for the tournament sees the winner of the European Challenge Cup, who will continue to qualify for the following term's Heineken Cup, also earn an additional top table spot for the country of the winner.
From the 2009/10 season both the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup winners will qualify automatically for the following season's Heineken Cup and will each earn an extra spot for their countries - over and above their guaranteed allocations.
The changes mean that the Italian/Celtic League 24th Place Play-Off is no longer required and the extra place earned by England this year, which was available to the most successful nation from England, France or Italy, is also no longer applicable.
Teams will continue to qualify through their domestic tournaments with each nation having the following number of automatic places:
England and France - 6 each
Wales and Ireland - 3 each
Scotland and Italy - 2 each
The 23rd and 24th Heineken Cup places will go to the nation(s) of the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup winners, with England and France capped on a maximum of seven teams each.
good news for Connacht i would think
Originally Posted by Jinky
There is something inherently wrong with someone who chooses to become a referee