With the Guinness Pro14 highlighting their qualifying process in yesterday’s announcement, the discussion once again turned to Heineken Champions Cup qualification, and who qualifies.
There has been heavy talk of a 24-team competition, so here are the teams that would qualify for that ‘one-off’ setup.
Let’s start off with the Celtic Rugby qualifiers. Now, in this one off 24-team event, the top four teams from each conference will qualify.
However, since the Toyota Cheetahs – who aren’t eligible for European qualification – occupy one of those spots in conference A, the spot will go to the fifth placed team, the Dragons.
So, here are the eight teams who qualify from the Pro14:
Ordinarily, only the top six would qualify, or seven should criteria fall into place depending on who wins the previous competition etc.
The newly expected format allows that to be pushed up to eight teams.
- Exeter Chiefs
- Sale Sharks
- Bristol Bears
- Northampton Saints
- London Irish
Same as the Premiership, it’s usually a straight shootout, with the top six qualifying unless other criteria fall into place. Once again there’ll be eight team who qualify, ensuring an even split across the three leagues.
- Racing 92
- La Rochelle
How would the setup work?
Well, there has been talk of eight pools of three. Now, this would leave a ‘bye week’ for one team in each pool, but it has been suggested that in order to avoid a fixture pile-up and ease the schedule, the Premiership and Pro14 teams could clash, leaving the French Top14 sides to play their domestic fixtures in the same week.
Of course, this wouldn’t solve every issue, but it seems one of the very few ways that the complicated scheduling issue could be resolved.
“Main photo credit”