All four Irish provinces will be among the new United Rugby Championship's eight representatives in next season's Heineken Champions Cup.

The new 16-team league, which will feature northern hemisphere sides from the outgoing Pro14 and South African teams, starts in September with RTÉ Sport and TG4 to broadcast over 50 free-to-air games.

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) has confirmed that qualification for the 2021-22 Champions Cup was based on the 16 rounds from last season's Pro14 campaign.

As finalists, champions Leinster and runners-up Munster have been ranked first and second respectively, with Ulster and Connacht third and fourth.

Welsh trio Scarlets, Ospreys, Cardiff and Scotland's Glasgow Warriors round out the eight qualifiers.

The English Premiership and French Top 14 provide eight teams each in next season's Champions Cup.

Toulouse are the reigning Heineken Cup champions

Played over nine weekends, the 2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup will kick off next December with the last of four pool stage rounds scheduled for the weekend of 21/22/23 January 2022.

The knockout stages will start on the weekend of 8/9/10 April 2022 with a Round of 16 which will be played over two legs on a home and away basis, followed by quarter-finals and semi-finals, with the Marseille finals going ahead on the weekend of 27/28 May 2022.

"As we put the finishing touches to a brand new shareholder agreement which promises to be positive for everyone involved in our tournaments, we are continuing to refine and develop the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, and next season will see a return to a full series of massively exciting and competitive matches across Europe," said EPCR chief executive Vincent Gaillard.


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All qualified clubs and their rankings will be officially confirmed once this season's domestic competitions are concluded.

Discussions to finalise all details of the formats for next season, and future seasons, within the framework of the new shareholder agreement, are ongoing, and these discussions include the future participation of South African clubs in EPCR’s tournaments as referenced in United Rugby Championship’s announcement.

No further comment will be made until the appropriate time, say organisers.


2021/22 EPCR weekends

Round 1 – 10/11/12 December

Round 2 – 17/18/19 December

Round 3 – 14/15/16 January 2022

Round 4 – 21/22/23 January 2022

Round of 16 (1st leg) – 8/9/10 April 2022

Round of 16 (2nd leg) – 15/16/17 April 2022

Quarter-finals – 6/7/8 May 2022

Semi-finals – 13/14/15 May 2022

Challenge Cup final – Friday 27 May 2022, Stade Vélodrome, Marseille

Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 28 May 2022, Stade Vélodrome, Marseille