Challenge Cup explainer and live pool draw
The pool draws for the 2023/24 Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup tournaments will be staged at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Wednesday 21 June and will be streamed live on EPCRugby.TV
The event will start at 12.30pm BST with the draw for the EPCR Challenge Cup pools which will be followed by the Champions Cup draw at approximately 12.50pm BST.
Viewers will be able to create a free account on EPCRugby.TV to access the draws which will be presented by Sarra Elgan (BT Sport) and Vincent Pochulu (beIN SPORTS).
The 2023/24 EPCR Challenge Cup will have 18 clubs – eight from the URC, six from the TOP 14, two from the Gallagher Premiership and two invited clubs which will be announced shortly – competing in three pools of six, Pool 1, Pool 2 and Pool 3. (See clubs below)
The following are the key principles integral to the draw:
Each pool will contain two TOP 14 clubs.
Clubs from the same URC Shield cannot be in the same pool. Therefore, the South African qualifiers – the Cell C Sharks and the Emirates Lions – will each be in a different pool, the Welsh clubs – Ospreys, Scarlets and Dragons RFC – will be kept apart during the draw, and similarly, Edinburgh Rugby, Benetton Rugby and Zebre Parma cannot be in the same pool.
The two Premiership clubs and the two invitees will also be drawn or allocated into different pools.
Clubs will play four different opponents home or away during the pool stage with same-league matches being kept to a minimum, and only impacting clubs from the URC.
To start the process, all 18 club balls will be placed in the drum, and any three balls will be drawn separately with the first club out of the drum going into Pool 1, the second club out of the drum going into Pool 2 and the third club out of the drum going into Pool 3.
The draw will then continue on an ‘open’ basis with the next club out of the drum going into Pool 1, the following club out of the drum going into Pool 2, and so on in ascending numerical order until all club balls are drawn or allocated provided that the key principles are adhered to.
If a club cannot be drawn into a pool in accordance with the key principles, then the club will be allocated to the next available pool. The process will then re-start at the pool into which the initial club could not be drawn.
The fixture schedules for both tournaments with dates, venues, kick-off times and TV coverage will be announced as soon as possible. Fixtures will be determined using an algorithm which will take into consideration the pool draws, league calendar restrictions, individual club calendar restrictions and broadcast requirements.
2023/24 EPCR CHALLENGE CUP QUALIFIERS
BKT UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP – Cell C Sharks, Emirates Lions, Benetton Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby, Ospreys, Scarlets, Dragons RFC, Zebre Parma
TOP 14 – Castres Olympique, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Montpellier Hérault Rugby, Section Paloise, USAP, Oyonnax Rugby
GALLAGHER PREMIERSHIP – Gloucester Rugby, Newcastle Falcons
INVITED – Two clubs to be confirmed
Round 1 – 8/9/10 December 2023
Round 2 – 15/16/17 December 2023
Round 3 – 12/13/14 January 2024
Round 4 – 19/20/21 January 2024
Round of 16 – 5/6/7 April 2024
Quarter-finals – 12/13/14 April 2024
Semi-finals – 3/4/5 May 2024
EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday 24 May 2024, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Champions Cup final – Saturday 25 May 2024, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium