Find out how Europe's elite tournament will work this season

What’s the European Champions Cup format in 2021-22?

The 2021-22 European Champions Cup kicks off in December and runs through until the end of May.

Toulouse triumphed last season, beating La Rochelle 22-17 to claim their fifth European title. They then went on to do the double by winning the Top 14.

There is a new format this season with four pool rounds followed by a two-legged round of 16. Here is what you need to know.

How will the European Champions Cup format in 2021-22 work?

The 2021-22 European Champions Cup will have a pool stage followed by a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final.

There are two pools, A and B, made up of 12 teams each from the Gallagher Premiership, Top 14 and United Rugby Championship.

Each side will play four games in the pool stage, two home and two away, and have been drawn against opponents from outside their own leagues. Then the top eight teams from each pool will go through to the round of last 16.

If a team has to forfeit a fixture due to Covid-19, like Scarlets and their opening game against Bristol, the opposition are awarded a 28-0 victory.

Related: European Champions Cup live stream: How to watch from anywhere

The last 16 will be the first knockout round, with the fixtures played over two legs, one home and away. They will work with the top-ranked team from Pool A playing the eighth-ranked team from Pool B and so on.

The quarter-finals and semi-finals will be one-off occasions, with the final held on Saturday 28 May at Stade Vélodrome in Marseille.

Which teams are in which pools?

Pool A: La Rochelle, Exeter Chiefs, Leinster, Montpellier, Bath, Glasgow Warriors, Racing 92, Sale Sharks, Ulster, Clermont, Northampton Saints and Ospreys.

Pool B: Toulouse, Harlequins, Munster, Castres, Wasps, Cardiff, Bordeaux-Begles, Bristol Bears, Connacht, Stade Francais, Leicester Tigers and Scarlets.

What are the tournament dates?

The pool stage will run from 10 December 2021 until 23 January 2022.

The first round of the last 16 will get underway on the weekend of 8-10 April with the second round on 15-17 April.

The quarter-finals will be held the weekend of  6-8 May with the semis on 13-15 May and the final on 28 May.

Related: European Champions Cup fixtures

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