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1 month 1 week ago #68791

No confirmation on the Challenge Cup format for next season but the line-up so far looks like:

Glasgow
Scarlets
Connacht
Lions
Benetton
Cardiff
Dragons
Zebre


Wasps (unless they beat Leicester away on the last day, in which case London Irish)
Bristol
Newcastle
Bath
Worcester


One of Toulon/Lyon/Clermont (Toulon are favourites to win the Challenge Cup and progress, Clermont would then have to make up a single point on Lyon on the last day, when they're both at home to title-chasers - should be worth a watch)
Pau
Stade Francais
Brive

Two from Perpignan/Mont de Marsan/Nevers/Bayonne/Oyonnax (bookies have Bayonne as firm favourites to win Pro D2 leaving a likely play-off between Mont de Marsan and Perpignan)

Plus however many other teams they add. With 19 teams, maybe adding Rugby Europe Super Cup winners Black Lion from Tbilisi would be the obvious move. Unless they want to add five teams and use the same format as the Champions Cup.

The format this season was three pools of five, playing each other once. If they go to four pools of five, there would be the possibility that we wouldn't travel to France for the first time since forever (as two pools would only have one French team and we might get them at home).
They will almost certainly change the format though as that one left a week off for everyone due to the odd number, which was made up during the first leg of the round of sixteen, but with one less weekend in the calendar next year, that won't work.
My guess would be two pools of ten, with a format vaguely similar to the Champions Cup, but even more confusing :evil:
Whatever the format, with only four games in the pool, and more URC teams than everyone else, not every URC team can travel to both England and France (if my maths is right). So we might have to make do with Lisbon or Tbilisi (or Newport).

EDIT: Now I think of it, they will probably want to keep teams from the same league apart, which would mean all the URC teams could go to both England and France. Some English or French teams would play two games in URC land in that case.

Last edit: 1 month 4 days ago by pinky.
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1 month 1 week ago #68793

Glasgow can still get the Heineken Cup spot if they win the playoffs which would see Munster drop into the Challenge Cup. However this is a long shot in reality.

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1 month 1 week ago #68794

neill_m wrote: Glasgow can still get the Heineken Cup spot if they win the playoffs which would see Munster drop into the Challenge Cup. However this is a long shot in reality.

You're right. I never spotted that rule. When they originally launched the URC, the rules were that you could in theory win the URC and bizarrely not qualify for the Champions Cup, but they must have slipped a rule change past me ( www.unitedrugby.com/about/competition-rules ). It's odd that Edinburgh would still progress as Scottish/Italian shield winners despite there already being a Scottish representative but them's the rules I guess.
As you say, it's a long shot. You can get 80-1 on Glasgow winning it.

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1 month 1 week ago #68795

I had a look at the format from last season. In that version the 14 teams were split into two tiers based on league position, and you played two teams home-and-away. You couldn't play a team from your own league or from your own tier (vaguely similar to the Champions Cup format) but you could play two teams from the same league.
They could do a similar format with 20 teams, possibly split into two tens, with 5 in each tier.
In that case Connacht would be in the top tier and would avoid the top 3 qualifiers from the other leagues.

So the options would be:
Brive, Perpignan or a promoted French team, and
Worcester, Bath or an invitational team

But potentially it could be two French or two English.
Might actually be more likely to be a Romanian than a Georgian team if they add one more as they have stayed out of the RE Super Cup so far. Baie Mare are the Champions but their season runs through the summer now and Timisoara seem to be making the early running.

I would take Bath and Mont-de-Marsan for a bit of variety, or a random Tier two team for a proper adventure ...

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1 month 1 week ago #68797

And just as I predict a Romanian team in the Challenge Cup, the Wolves join the Super Cup ... www.rugbyeurope.eu/news/romanian-wolves-...by-europe-super-cup/
You'd wonder where team 20 will come from, if there even is one. A prime number seems unlikely. Cheetahs? The winner of tomorrows Súper Liga Americana final? A trip to Mondevideo would be a bit of craic.
Maybe one team sits it out for an 18 team comp. I'm sure you'd get some volunteers from the Top 14 to have a winter break.

Last edit: 1 month 1 week ago by pinky.

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1 month 4 days ago #68798

Well Lyon are through to the Champions Cup so the last French spot pretty much goes to a shootout between Toulon and Clermont.
Toulon are two ahead but they have to go to Racing whereas Clermont are at home to Montpellier. Bookies have Clermont and Racing as favourites but Clermont would need both of the results to go their way so Toulon still have the edge.
Meanwhile someone has added a wikipedia page for next season's Challenge Cup confidently predicting only four teams each from England and France. He doesn't cite any sources but it's from someone who edits a lot of rugby stuff so might be something to it (or could be nonsense). The idea of newly promoted teams not playing in Europe was floated before so not completely ridiculous.
If that were to happen Connacht would play 11th or 12th in each league, so the lesser of Pau/Stade Francais or the better of Brive/Perpignan and either Newcastle or the winner of Worcester v Bath.

Last edit: 1 month 4 days ago by pinky.

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1 month 3 days ago #68800

pinky wrote: Well Lyon are through to the Champions Cup so the last French spot pretty much goes to a shootout between Toulon and Clermont.
Toulon are two ahead but they have to go to Racing whereas Clermont are at home to Montpellier. Bookies have Clermont and Racing as favourites but Clermont would need both of the results to go their way so Toulon still have the edge.
Meanwhile someone has added a wikipedia page for next season's Challenge Cup confidently predicting only four teams each from England and France. He doesn't cite any sources but it's from someone who edits a lot of rugby stuff so might be something to it (or could be nonsense). The idea of newly promoted teams not playing in Europe was floated before so not completely ridiculous.
If that were to happen Connacht would play 11th or 12th in each league, so the lesser of Pau/Stade Francais or the better of Brive/Perpignan and either Newcastle or the winner of Worcester v Bath.


Interesting a 16 team format would sort out the issue. Connacht were 3rd best behind Glasgow/Munster and Scarlets, So in theory would be Tier 2 (assuming a similar structure to Heineken Cup of one pool of 16) with top 10 progressing to Round of 16. IF Connacht were Tier 2 and the other two leagues put in 4 sides, then they would face 11th in Premiership and Top 14, that would be currently Newcastle, but could change to Bath or Worcester depending on Saturday. In Top 14th, Stade are currently 11th on same points as Pau in 10th. Brive in 12th can't catch Stade.

All of the above is based on assumptions mind!

Last edit: 1 month 3 days ago by neill_m.

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1 month 3 days ago #68802

It would make for a straightforward format alright. I was thinking two pools of 8, each with two tiers of 4 (1 Eng 1 Fra 2 URC) and each URC team plays the two non-URC teams in the other tier of its pool and vice versa.
But also, the guy on wikipedia may very well have just copied last year's article, deleted the bits he wasn't sure about and then added up the sums again!
I think the format was confirmed very late last season if I recall.

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1 month 3 days ago #68804

pinky wrote: It would make for a straightforward format alright. I was thinking two pools of 8, each with two tiers of 4 (1 Eng 1 Fra 2 URC) and each URC team plays the two non-URC teams in the other tier of its pool and vice versa.
But also, the guy on wikipedia may very well have just copied last year's article, deleted the bits he wasn't sure about and then added up the sums again!
I think the format was confirmed very late last season if I recall.


2 pools x 8 also works with top 5 in each progressing + 9th-11th in each Heineken Cup pool making up Round of 16.

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1 month 2 days ago #68805

I'm kinda hoping that they drop the idea of Heineken Cup teams getting into the knockout stage. It's beyond ridiculous that Castres and Northampton got through with four defeats. It may have just been a pandemic rule to compensate teams that lost out due to cancellations.
But not sure what the alternative is - maybe two legged quarter finals ...

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1 month 2 days ago #68806

Official confirmation on the EPCR website that the 4 South African sides in the URC will compete in the Heineken and Challenge Cups next season. Cheetahs also invited to play in the Challenge Cup, solving the 20th team problem. Formats and draw to be confirmed/held later in June.

With Challenge Cup with 20 sides, I would expect a similar set up to the Heineken Cup with 2 pools x 10 etc.

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1 month 2 days ago #68807

neill_m wrote: Cheetahs also invited to play in the Challenge Cup


Ah so my prediction was correct :-)
The key to predicting things accurately is to make about forty contradictory predictions ...

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1 month 20 hours ago #68809

A guide to potential opponents in action this weekend: rugby.connacht.pink/?p=100

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4 weeks 3 hours ago #68811

OK we are probably going to play Brive and Newcastle I have now decided ...

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3 weeks 20 hours ago #68815

Perpignan hold on to their Top 14 spot in the play-off so will be the final ball in the hat.

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2 weeks 6 days ago #68817

www.epcrugby.com/2022/06/13/2022-23-epcr...ualifiers-confirmed/

Draw on Tuesday June 28.

The clubs will be divided into two pools of 10 – Pool A and Pool B – and in a similar format to the Heineken Champions Cup, the tournament will be played over eight weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage starting in December.

The six highest-ranked clubs from each pool, as well as the 9th and 10th ranked clubs from each of the Heineken Champions Cup pools, will qualify for a Round of 16, which will be followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final at the Aviva Stadium on 19 May 2023.

The number 1 and number 2 ranked clubs from each league will be in Tier 1, the number 3 and number 4 ranked clubs from each league, as well as the number 5 and number 6 ranked clubs from the URC, will be in Tier 2. The Dragons, Zebre Parma, Aviron Bayonnais, USAP, Bath Rugby and the Cheetahs will be in Tier 3.

The Tier 1 and the Tier 3 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away over four pool stage rounds.

The Tier 2 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not from the same league, will play one another home and away during the pool stage. In order to adhere to the key principle of no same-league matches, Tier 2 clubs from the TOP 14 can only play against opposition from the URC, and similarly, Tier 2 clubs from the Premiership can also only play against opposition from the URC.

2022/23 EPCR CHALLENGE CUP QUALIFIERS
United Rugby Championship: 1 Glasgow Warriors, 2 Scarlets, 3 Connacht Rugby, 4 Lions, 5 Benetton Rugby, 6 Cardiff Rugby, 7 Dragons, 8 Zebre Parma
TOP 14: 1 RC Toulon, 2 Section Paloise, 3 Stade Français Paris, 4 CA Brive, 5 Aviron Bayonnais, 6 USAP
Gallagher Premiership: 1 Wasps, 2 Bristol Bears, 3 Worcester Warriors, 4 Newcastle Falcons, 5 Bath Rugby
Invited: Cheetahs


So Connacht will be in Tier 2 and play Stade/Brive and Worcester/Newcastle.

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