The Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup will advance straight to knockout rounds

More changes to 2020-21 European rugby competitions

More changes have been announced for the 2020-21 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup following the postponement of the European rugby competitions in January due to Covid.

Before the start of this season’s European club competitions, the format had changed. The Champions Cup expanded to 24 teams instead of the normal 20, while the Challenge Cup started with 14 clubs rather than the usual 20. Pool rounds were reduced from six to four with two-legged quarter-finals introduced.

However, after pool rounds three and four were cancelled in January, both tournaments will now advance straight to knockout stages, starting with a round of 16.

With 24 teams in the Champions Cup, the eight highest ranked clubs from each pool will qualify for the round of 16, while the remaining eight teams will join the eight highest-ranked teams from the preliminary stage of the Challenge Cup for the knockout stages.

For the round of 16, clubs cannot be drawn against a team from the same league. The draw for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup Round of 16 and quarter-finals will take place on Tuesday 9 March, streamed live on

Clubs that have won both their matches to date on the pitch (ie without being impacted by Covid cancellations) are guaranteed a home fixture in the round of 16, which is scheduled for the first weekend of April.

Therefore, Racing 92, Leinster, Wasps, Bordeaux-Begles and Munster will play at home in the Champions Cup round of 16 and London Irish, Ospreys and Leicester Tigers will benefit from home draws in the Challenge Cup round of 16.

The quarter-finals of both competitions, on 9-11 April, will now be a one-off match rather than played over two legs. The semi-finals are scheduled for the weekend of 30 April to 2 May while the finals are due to take place in Marseille’s Stade Velodrome on 21 May (Challenge Cup) and 22 May (Champions Cup).

These are the 16 teams that are moving through to the knockout stages in each competition.

Heineken Champions Cup

  • Racing 92
  • Leinster Rugby
  • Wasps
  • Bordeaux-Bègles
  • Munster Rugby
  • Lyon
  • Toulouse
  • La Rochelle
  • Scarlets
  • ASM Clermont Auvergne
  • Bristol Bears
  • Exeter Chiefs
  • Edinburgh Rugby
  • Gloucester Rugby
  • RC Toulon
  • Sale Sharks

Challenge Cup

  • London Irish
  • Ospreys
  • Leicester Tigers
  • Cardiff Blues
  • Zebre Rugby Club
  • Agen
  • Benetton Rugby
  • Newcastle Falcons
  • Ulster Rugby
  • Connacht Rugby
  • Northampton Saints
  • Bath Rugby
  • Montpellier
  • Dragons
  • Harlequins
  • Glasgow Warriors

These are the key tournament dates:

Rounds of 16 Weekend 2-4 April
Quarter-finals Weekend 9-11 April
Semi-finals Weekend 30 April-2 May
Challenge Cup final Friday 21 May, Marseille
Heineken Champions Cup final Saturday 22 May, Marseille

Can’t get to the shops? Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition for magazine delivery to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.