Format Announced for EPCR 2024/25 Season Pool Draws

As previously announced, the pool draws for the 2024/25 Investec Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup tournaments will be staged in Cardiff on Tuesday 2 July.

Both draws will be streamed live on epcrugby.com and the event, which will be co-presented by Sarra Elgan and Vincent Pochulu, will start at 11.00 (UK-Irish time) / 12.00 (South African-Italian time) / 14.00 (Georgian time) with the draw for the EPCR Challenge Cup pools, and the Investec Champions Cup draw will follow at approximately 11.20 / 12.20 / 14.20.

The 24 Investec Champions Cup clubs which have qualified on merit from the TOP 14, Gallagher Premiership and United Rugby Championship (URC) will once again compete in four pools of six – Pool 1, Pool 2, Pool 3 and Pool 4. (See qualifiers below)

The key principles of the Investec Champions Cup draw are as follows:

  • Each pool of six will contain two clubs from each of the leagues.
  • Clubs from the same URC Shield cannot be in the same pool. Therefore, the Irish qualifiers – Munster Rugby, Leinster Rugby and Ulster Rugby – will each be drawn or allocated into separate pools, and similarly, the Vodacom Bulls, DHL Stormers and Hollywoodbets Sharks from South Africa cannot be in the same pool.
  • There will be no matches between clubs from the same league, so in order to create the pool stage fixtures, each club will play four matches against four different clubs who are not from the same league either home or away.

For the purposes of the draw, the clubs will be divided into two tiers, Tier 1 and Tier 2. The four clubs in Tier 1 will be: Stade Toulousain (2024 Investec Champions Cup winners), Northampton Saints (2024 Gallagher Premiership winners), as well as the 2024 URC and TOP 14 winners. If Stade Toulousain win the TOP 14 title, then the Investec Champions Cup final runners-up, Leinster Rugby, will be included in Tier 1.

To start the process, the four Tier 1 clubs will be drawn with the first club out of the drum going into Pool 1, the second club out of the drum going into Pool 2, the third club out of the drum going into Pool 3 and the fourth club out of the drum going into Pool 4.

Adhering to the key principles, the remaining 20 clubs in Tier 2 will then be drawn or allocated into the pools. 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 2024/25 EPCR Challenge Cup will once again have 18 clubs – eight from the URC, six from the TOP 14, two from the Gallagher Premiership and two invited clubs, Black Lion from Georgia and the Toyota Cheetahs from South Africa – competing in three pools of six, Pool 1, Pool 2 and Pool 3. (See all clubs below)

The following are the key principles integral to the EPCR Challenge Cup draw:

  • Each pool of six will contain two TOP 14 clubs.
  • As the draw will include four Welsh clubs – Ospreys, Cardiff Rugby, Scarlets and Dragons RFC – one pool will have two Welsh representatives.
  • Edinburgh Rugby and Zebre Parma, who are from the same URC Shield, cannot be in the same pool. For the purposes of the draw, they will be grouped with the Welsh clubs.
  • A maximum of three URC clubs can be included in the same pool.
  • For the purposes of the draw, the two Premiership qualifiers, Gloucester Rugby and the Newcastle Falcons, as well as Connacht Rugby from Ireland, cannot be in the same pool.
  • The Emirates Lions, as well as the two invited clubs, Black Lion and the Toyota Cheetahs, cannot be in the same pool.
  • Only two of the following clubs can be included in the same pool: Ospreys, Emirates Lions, Edinburgh Rugby and Scarlets.
  • Clubs will play four different opponents home or away during the pool stage and a limited number of same-league fixtures will be unavoidable.

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 2024/25 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 league calendar restrictions, individual club calendar restrictions, broadcast requirements and the pool draws.

*2024/25 INVESTEC CHAMPIONS CUP QUALIFIERS

TOP 14: Stade Toulousain, Stade Français Paris, Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Stade Rochelais, RC Toulon, Racing 92, Castres Olympique, ASM Clermont Auvergne

Gallagher Premiership: Northampton Saints, Bath Rugby, Sale Sharks, Saracens, Bristol Bears, Harlequins, Exeter Chiefs, Leicester Tigers

United Rugby Championship: Vodacom Bulls, Glasgow Warriors, Munster Rugby, Leinster Rugby, DHL Stormers, Ulster Rugby, Benetton Rugby, Hollywoodbets Sharks

*The four Tier 1 clubs will be confirmed in advance of the pool draw.

2024/25 EPCR CHALLENGE CUP QUALIFIERS

United Rugby Championship: Ospreys, Emirates Lions, Edinburgh Rugby, Connacht Rugby, Cardiff Rugby, Scarlets, Dragons RFC, Zebre Parma

TOP 14: Section Paloise, USAP, Lyon Olympique Universitaire, Aviron Bayonnais, Montpellier Hérault Rugby, RC Vannes

Gallagher Premiership: Gloucester Rugby, Newcastle Falcons Invited: Black Lion, Toyota Cheetahs

2024/25 weekends

Round 1 – 6/7/8 December

Round 2 – 13/14/15 December

Round 3 – 10/11/12 January 2025

Round 4 – 17/18/19 January 2025

Round of 16 – 4/5/6 April 2025

Quarter-finals – 11/12/13 April 2025

Semi-finals – 2/3/4 May 2025

2025 EPCR Challenge Cup final – Principality Stadium, Cardiff; Friday 23 May

2025 Investec Champions Cup final – Principality Stadium, Cardiff; Saturday 24 May

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