The Heineken Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup are both likely to be drastically restructured due to the enormous impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Guardian reported on Tuesday that European Professional Club Rugby [EPCR] are considering jumping straight to a last-16 knockout stage of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup after they were forced to suspend the tournament on Monday.
That decision followed a directive from the French government regarding the participation of the country's clubs in both competitions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
There's also been suggestions the competitions will go straight to the semi-finals, with the top two in each of the eight-team pools advancing.
Discussing the situation on the RTÉ Rugby Podcast, Donal Lenihan said going down that route would be "a disaster".
"I think it'd be a disaster if they went straight to the semi-finals because you look even at the way the two pools were devised in the first place, you had teams in tier one and in tier four that were put in to one pool, so obviously the second pool, where you had tier two and tier three teams, was a lot more competitive," he said.
"It's a pity the home and away quarter-final format, which I quite liked... I think that would have been brilliant to see. You can imagine going away to France in the first leg of a quarter-final, you lose by 14 points but you've the chance to come back the RDS, or Thomond Park or wherever with a chance to overturn that.
"We've seen that in the Championship play-offs in England the last number of years, where a Championship team is fighting to get promotion to the Premiership. They had those play-offs on a home-and-away basis.
"Even teams I had no interest in, I remember looking at them, and the fact they were chasing that points differential was brilliant. I think it would have brought a different dimension to it.
"But I definitely think if they're going to lose that home-and-away quarter-final then the best route to go down is the top eight in each pool because at least you're getting reward for winning your opening two games in the pool games that took place.
"I think it'd be a disaster to go straight to the semi-finals."
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