Champions Cup draw - how it works
By Mark Stevens
Rob Baxter and his Exeter Chiefs side will learn the identity of their Heineken Champions Cup opponents on Wednesday June 20, with this season's final taking place at St James' Park.
The Chiefs will be one of seven teams from the Gallagher Premiership, who will line-up amongst the elite of the European game for the 2018/19 campaign.
The Champions Cup draw will be streamed live on the tournament website www.epcrugby.com following the 2pm European Challenge Cup draw.
Held in Lausanne, Switzerland, the event comperes will be Sarra Elgan (BT Sport) and Raphaël Ibañez (France Télévisions), with Dimitri Yachvili (beIN SPORTS) and Austin Healey (BT Sport) conducting the draws.
Before the pools themselves are decided the Chiefs will be in a pot to find out which tier they will be in for the main draw. The details of this process are as follows.
Twenty clubs from Gallagher Premiership Rugby, the Guinness Pro 14 and the Top 14 have qualified on merit for the Heineken Champions Cup. The clubs will be divided into four tiers of five and a preliminary draw will be conducted to establish Tier 1 with two of the three second-ranked clubs – Exeter Chiefs, Scarlets and Montpellier – joining Heineken Champions Cup and Pro 14 winners, Leinster, Premiership winners, Saracens, and Top 14 winners, Castres, in the top tier.
Once Tier 1 has been established, the remaining three tiers will fall into place. Tier 2 will include the three third-ranked clubs from the leagues – Wasps, Glasgow Warriors and Racing 92 – as well as the second-ranked club which was not drawn into Tier 1 and the fourth-ranked club from the same league as the club which was not drawn into Tier 1.
Tier 3 will include the two clubs ranked fourth which are not in Tier 2 as well as the three fifth-ranked clubs from each league – Leicester Tigers, Edinburgh Rugby and Toulouse.
Tier 4 is complete and contains the sixth-ranked clubs from each league – Bath Rugby, Challenge Cup winners, Cardiff Blues, and RC Toulon – as well as Ulster Rugby and Gloucester Rugby.
When the tiers are completed, the main draw for the five pools will be made, and during the draw, some clubs may have to be placed directly into a pool in order to ensure that the key principles apply.
Pool draw – key principles:
- The 20 clubs are divided into four tiers based on their qualifying positions from the leagues, or on other official qualification criteria. This will be done where necessary by a preliminary draw.
- The 20 clubs will then be drawn into five pools of four clubs each.
- Each pool will have at least one club from each of the three leagues.
- Each of the five pools will have one club from each of the four tiers.
- There will be no more than two clubs from the same league in a pool.
- No pool will contain two Pro 14 clubs from the same country.
- Clubs from the same league will be kept apart until the allocation of the Tier 4 clubs.
Heineken Champions Cup weekends
Round 1: October 12/13/14
Round 2: October 19/20/21
Round 3: December 7/8/9
Round 4: December 14/15/16
Round 5: January 11/12/13
Round 6: January 18/19/20
Quarter-Finals: March 29/30/31
Semi-Finals: April 19/20/21
Challenge Cup Final: Friday, May 10, St James’ Park
Heineken Champions Cup Final: Saturday, May 11, St James’ Park