The format and qualifier rankings for next season's Heineken Champions Cup have been finalised with Leinster and Munster confirmed as the top two ranked sides from the Guinness Pro14.

Ulster and Connacht are ranked third and fourth respectively from that competition.

The format, like last season, consists of 24 clubs with eight representatives from the Gallagher Premiership, the Guinness Pro14 and the Top 14.

Weekend wins for Harlequins over Exeter, and Toulouse over Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle confirmed the outstanding rankings from the Premiership and Top 14 leagues.

The clubs will be divided into two pools of 12 – Pool A and Pool B - by means of a draw and the tournament will be played over nine weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage starting in December when Toulouse begin the defence of their title.

The eight highest-ranked clubs from each pool will qualify for the knockout stage, which will consist of a Round of 16 on a home and away basis, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final in Marseille on 28 May 2022.

The draw for the pools will be carried out on the same lines as last season with the clubs separated into four tiers, and clubs from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn into the same pool.

The number 1 and number 2 ranked clubs from each league will be in Tier 1, the number 3 and number 4 ranked clubs will be in Tier 2, the number 5 and 6 ranked clubs will be in Tier 3, and the number 7 and number 8 ranked clubs will be Tier 4.

The Tier 1 and the Tier 4 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away during the pool stage, as will the Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league.

Organisers EPCR is currently putting the finishing touches to a new shareholder agreement, and discussions to finalise the Challenge Cup format for the 2021/22 season, as well as the formats for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup for future seasons, are ongoing.

These discussions include the future participation of South African clubs in EPCR’s tournaments as referenced recently by the United Rugby Championship.

2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup qualifiers

1 Leinster
2 Munster
3 Ulster
4 Connacht
5 Scarlets
6 Ospreys
7 Cardiff
8 Glasgow Warriors

1 Harlequins
2 Exeter Chiefs
3 Bristol Bears
4 Sale Sharks
5 Northampton Saints
6 Leicester Tigers
7 Bath Rugby
8 Wasps Guinness

Top 14:
1 Stade Toulousain (Toulouse)
2 Stade Rochelais (La Rochelle)
3 Racing 92
4 Union Bordeaux-Bègles
5 ASM Clermont Auvergne
6 Stade Français Paris
7 Castres Olympique
8 Montpellier Hérault Rugby