The Champions and Challenge Cup are reverting to type


The Champions Cup will return to its multi-pool format from the 2023-24 season. This campaign saw two pools, A and B, and the top eight teams from each pool progressed to the last 16.

However, from next season the competition is reverting back to its old structure. There will be four pools of six with the change being made in agreement with the respective leagues and nations involved.

Read more: Bristol Bears make Champions Cup in place of London Irish

The Challenge Cup will also follow a similar format with three pools of six. Both the Challenge and Champions Cup will be played over eight weekends with four rounds in the pool stage and four knockout rounds.

The competition organisers did not specify when the pool draws will be taking place.

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) Chairman Dominic McKay said: “We are delighted to announce the new formats for the 2023-24 season. We’ve been working hard with our Leagues and key stakeholders to ensure we have the right competition structures – for players and clubs – but also crucially for supporters.

“Our focus has always been to ensure that everyone can easily understand, engage with and follow our tournaments, and also to ensure we have a structure that creates real sporting jeopardy in as many matches as possible.”

London Irish did have a spot in the Champions Cup next season as they finished fifth in the Premiership. However, they have since been suspended from the Premiership and so Bristol Bears will now take their spot.

The EPCR said in a statement: “EPCR can clarify that regrettably, the club will not compete in the 2023/24 Champions Cup.

“As Bristol Bears are the highest-ranked club in the Gallagher Premiership league table at the conclusion of the regular season which did not qualify for the 2023/24 Champions Cup, they will now replace London Irish in next season’s tournament.”

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