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Champions Cup 2024 Format

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Pete330v2
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Post by thebandwagonsociety Wed 14 Jun 2023, 1:57 pm

First topic message reminder :

The Champions Cup will be competed for by 24 elite clubs with eight representatives from the TOP 14, eight from the Gallagher Premiership and eight from the BKT United Rugby Championship (URC). (See qualifiers below)

The clubs will be divided into four pools of six by means of a draw with Champions Cup winners, Stade Rochelais, League winners, Saracens and Munster Rugby, as well as the winners of Saturday’s TOP 14 final between Stade Rochelais and Stade Toulousain, making up Tier 1 with each club drawn into a separate pool at the outset.

If Stade Rochelais happen to win the TOP 14 title, then the Champions Cup final runners-up, Leinster Rugby, will be included in Tier 1.

The remaining 20 clubs make up Tier 2 and will be either drawn or allocated into the four pools by means of an ‘open’ draw with the following in-built key principles:

There can only be a maximum of two clubs from the same league in each pool.
Clubs from the same URC Shield cannot be in the same pool. Therefore, the Irish qualifiers – Munster Rugby, Leinster Rugby, Ulster Rugby and Connacht Rugby – will each be in a different pool, and similarly, the DHL Stormers and the Vodacom Bulls from South Africa will be kept apart during the draw.
There will be no matches between clubs from the same league, so for the purposes of creating the fixtures, each club will play four matches against four different clubs who are not from the same league either home or away during the pool stage.
At the conclusion of the pool stage, the four highest-ranked clubs from each pool will qualify for the Round of 16 and the clubs ranked number five in each of the pools will qualify for the knockout stage of the EPCR Challenge Cup.

The EPCR Challenge Cup will be competed for by 18 clubs with eight representatives from the URC, six from the TOP 14, two from the Premiership, plus two invited clubs which will be announced shortly. (See clubs below)

The clubs will be drawn or allocated into three pools of six with two TOP 14 clubs in each pool. Clubs from the same URC Shield and from the Premiership, as well as the two invitees, will be kept apart during the draw.

Clubs will play four different opponents home or away with same-league matches being kept to a minimum, and only impacting clubs from the URC. The four highest-ranked clubs from each of the pools will qualify for the knockout stage.

The pool draws for the 2023/24 tournaments will take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday 21 June and will be broadcast live on EPCRugby.TV. Further details and timings will be communicated shortly.

2023/24 CHAMPIONS CUP QUALIFIERS
TOP 14 – Stade Rochelais, Stade Toulousain, Racing 92, Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Lyon, Stade Français Paris, RC Toulon, Aviron Bayonnais

GALLAGHER PREMIERSHIP – Saracens, Sale Sharks, Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints, Harlequins, Exeter Chiefs, Bath Rugby, Bristol Bears

BKT UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP - Munster Rugby, DHL Stormers, Leinster Rugby, Ulster Rugby, Glasgow Warriors, Vodacom Bulls, Connacht Rugby, Cardiff Rugby

2023/24 EPCR CHALLENGE CUP QUALIFIERS
BKT UNITED RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP - Cell C Sharks, Emirates Lions, Benetton Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby, Ospreys, Scarlets, Dragons RFC, Zebre Parma

TOP 14 - Castres Olympique, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Montpellier Herault Rugby, Section Paloise, USAP, Oyonnax Rugby

GALLAGHER PREMIERSHIP - Gloucester Rugby, Newcastle Falcons

INVITED – Two clubs to be confirmed

2023/24 WEEKENDS

Round 1 – 8/9/10 December 2023

Round 2 – 15/16/17 December 2023

Round 3 – 12/13/14 January 2024

Round 4 – 19/20/21 January 2024

Round of 16 – 5/6/7 April 2024

Quarter-finals – 12/13/14 April 2024

Semi-finals – 3/4/5 May 2024

EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday 24 May 2024, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Champions Cup final – Saturday 25 May 2024, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 22 Jun 2023, 2:32 pm

Bath are afar better side than Cardiff.

I suspect the two English sides and Ulster will be playing for 3rd/4th/5th place but the English sides will have a 4/5 point head start.
Ulster will need to win both to finish 3rd and at least one to finish 4th, otherwise they could be bottom.


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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 22 Jun 2023, 3:05 pm

Not sure I buy that Bath are better than Cardiff. It's closer than that. Probably a case either side could probably beat each other on any given day. Would all depend which Cardiff team actually turns up as sometimes they play great and sometimes they couldn't be a U15 side. Bath are fairly one dimensional.

Won't matter though as neither side will pose any issues for Ulster. Sale caused Ulster problems last year granted but they were one of the better teams in the premiership last year. Bath are not at that level.

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 22 Jun 2023, 3:39 pm

Ulster will not be at the level they were last year next - the playing squad is significantly weaker and has far less depth.
A superb rolling maul masked serious weaknesses - I suspect others will counter that more effectively next year.

I would expect to beat Bath at home but away I reckon its 50/50

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Post by yappysnap Thu 22 Jun 2023, 10:41 pm

Bath were truly terrible most of last season, they're far worse than the sum of their parts so I think they could easily be bottom of the pool.

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Post by Brendan Fri 23 Jun 2023, 12:46 am

I like the new format. Seeing the big teams go at each other from the start will be nice. I wasn't a fan of just playing two teams and think the variety of the 4 teams will be good.

La Rochelle's group is tasty but feel for the two English teams especially Sale who like to bullie teams but not sure it will work with those teams.

Overall draw is good, we have our groups of death and or group of "lesser teams" which is good. I think if most had to actually order 6 teams in each group we might struggle to do it which is what we want and we could have plenty cases where on the final day a team is playing and a win puts them 3rd and a loss puts them 5th. To be sure you need to win two games.

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Post by neilthom7 Fri 23 Jun 2023, 3:35 am

EPCR not announcing which teams play which home or away and the fact they don’t have an open and transparent way in which they show how they get to that is really suspicious.

At best it’s a sign of an ill thought out plan. At worst it’s a sign of rigging and fraud.

Their piece about how they work it out is nonsense.  Sure all that stuff they mentioned is necessary when deciding the date and kick off times of each game but it isn’t when deciding who is home and away.

It’s a really bad look for the tournament.  And even if they are doing it completely fairly if a big team gets a good draw now about who it plays at home and who it plays away then people are going to think it was rigged.

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 23 Jun 2023, 8:36 am

The issue of how each home and away draw will be decided is the real issue. Take Leinster vs La Rochelle in their group. No doubt whoever plays at home will have a minor advantage. There will be a ton of similar key games that may be swung purely on who gets the advantage of the home draw.

It's just not very balanced. Is it better than last year. Sure. But that doesn't make it good. It's a long way from where the competition originally was. And at this stage I have zero faith they will fix it.

Doesn't overly matter to me in any case as I won't be watching it. Such a shame though as under the old format I never missed these games. Now I'm not actually bothered.

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Fri 23 Jun 2023, 9:21 am

Welshmushroom wrote:The issue of how each home and away draw will be decided is the real issue.  Take Leinster vs La Rochelle in their group.  No doubt whoever plays at home will have a minor advantage.  There will be a ton of similar key games that may be swung purely on who gets the advantage of the home draw.

It's just not very balanced.  Is it better than last year.  Sure.  But that doesn't make it good.  It's a long way from where the competition originally was.  And at this stage I have zero faith they will fix it.

Doesn't overly matter to me in any case as I won't be watching it.  Such a shame though as under the old format I never missed these games.  Now I'm not actually bothered.  
Will you be watching the knockouts at least? I'm seeing a lot of people online saying they aren't too bothered with watching the pool stages, which is alarming.

I think the major issues of the group stages have been:
The lack of jeopardy with too many teams qualyfing for the knockout stages with losing records, due to the EPCRs insistence on having a last 16.

Getting rid of the crown jewel; the back to back games in December. Those games were always something to really look forward to in the group stage and were usually make or break for teams.

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 23 Jun 2023, 10:31 am

I'll be honest not sure I will. I might catch the semi and final - possibly. But even then it's a hard to excited about a couple of games when there is no real investment in the early rounds.

For example by contrast to the above - when I compare this to my URC viewing I would say I am probably watching 6-7 matches a weekend when league gets going. I used to be the same with Europe.

I think a real part of the problem for me is I used to view it as a Elite Tournament and teams treated it this way. These days you have maybe 3-4 teams with any chance at all. It's almost as if once teams have qualified they almost intentionally try to exit so they can focus on their leagues and qualify again and collect the qualification money. It seems to miss the point that just getting into it shouldn't be the focal point for 80% of the teams.

If ERC were really focused on turning this elite again they should simply reduce the teams, abandon the challenge cup altogether and change the funding model to something that rewards teams based on how far they go and scraps the money for qualifying for it. At least then would start taking it seriously (assuming they could get the FIR and PRL to actually stop slitting the money equally to its members).

That would then give clubs an actual incentive in terms of money reward to actually do well here instead.

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Fri 23 Jun 2023, 10:48 am

Why would you abandon the challenge Cup? I'm not sure what that has to do with making the HC elite again? The knockouts for the CC were almost more interesting than the HC this year and it also gives those teams a chance to win the trophy.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 23 Jun 2023, 12:35 pm

For me I'll watch Ulster knock out matches if they occur.
The SF and Final for sure, otherwise no.

I don't subscribe to BT Sports anymore so confined to the matches on ITV, RTE and TG4


Last edited by geoff999rugby on Fri 23 Jun 2023, 2:19 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Kingshu Fri 23 Jun 2023, 1:23 pm

The old HCup format had its flaws to with only a certain number of 2nd place teams getting though and the one with the Italian side (that was guarenteed entry) was always one of those.

But HCup gave up a weekend, and replaced the an Oct weekend for an April weekend (round of 16) and it doesnt appear the leagues are prepared to give that weekend back and reextend Hcup, so we're stuck with a reduced format.

Teams used to give up on group games when they couldn't qualify and some French teams like Castres never bought into it. Its just we are seeing more French teams and some English regard it as a distraction each season. Maybe it is too weighted finicially in qualifing but norlt for reaching knockouts. I remember reading that most of the money clubs used to make was by having 3 sold out home games. I suppose if your not going to get a home knockout game does it make it finicially worthwhile?

Maybe all the attendance revenue should be pooled and split equally each round, that would certainly encintivse the smaller teams, and teams that will be playing away from home?

Overall I think the HCup is dying, the French are concentrating more and more on the Top 14 (except a couple of big teams that feel they could do a double), English teams with Salary cap can't compete at top end and more are choosing to concentrate on Prem. The prestige it was held in is falling.

I dont know if there is a way to recover.

Personally I'd increase it back to 9 rounds, and have 32 teams, open draw, home and away knock out. Sure it only guarantees one home game a season, but it does have jeopardy the whole way through.

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Post by demosthenes Fri 23 Jun 2023, 4:16 pm

neilthom7 wrote:EPCR not announcing which teams play which home or away and the fact they don’t have an open and transparent way in which they show how they get to that is really suspicious.

At best it’s a sign of an ill thought out plan. At worst it’s a sign of rigging and fraud.

Their piece about how they work it out is nonsense.  Sure all that stuff they mentioned is necessary when deciding the date and kick off times of each game but it isn’t when deciding who is home and away.

It’s a really bad look for the tournament.  And even if they are doing it completely fairly if a big team gets a good draw now about who it plays at home and who it plays away then people are going to think it was rigged.

I will be very suspicious if the French teams manage to avoid going to South Africa at the expense of the English. Given the French propensity for not travelling with full strength teams anyway, I could see them sending their academies, especially if they have already lost one or more games.

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Post by doctor_grey Fri 23 Jun 2023, 7:13 pm

Kingshu wrote:Overall I think the HCup is dying, the French are concentrating more and more on the Top 14 (except a couple of big teams that feel they could do a double), English teams with Salary cap can't compete at top end and more are choosing to concentrate on Prem. The prestige it was held in is falling.

I dont know if there is a way to recover.

Personally I'd increase it back to 9 rounds, and have 32 teams, open draw, home and away knock out. Sure it only guarantees one home game a season, but it does have jeopardy the whole way through.
Apology for cutting some of your comment, mate. However, I agree about the eventual demise, or more probably at least contraction, of the Euro Rugby comp. In an era where at least some responsible people are pushing to reduce the total number of games Rugby players are allowed to play, not sure how it fits. Also, with more money coming into the Top 14, what's their incentive? Their season is already too long. Once the URC really beds in with the SA clubs, they could have more revenue. And in England the Premiership will find it's feet again - not because of most people currently involved with PRL governance - they are not up to the job - but the investor group, publicly silent up to now, and the next group of execs who will be hired to save the league, which may be starting now, will take action.

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Post by Kingshu Sat 24 Jun 2023, 12:44 am

Yeah, the Top 14 does have massive money coming into it. But its not because its hugely more popular that the URC or Premiership. Its becuase it runs longer. 26 rounds long the URC and Prem have currently 18 rounds. On a per round basis the URC and Premiership bring in about the same money.

Its the extra 8 rounds (nearly 1/3rd more of a season), which is 4 extra home games (those for bigger teams are worth 500k each, so extra 2m from attendances) 8 extra weekends for TV companies (56 extra games) over the URC or Premiership which generates the bigger TV deal. If the URC or Premiership were 26 rounds long they would be making about the same as the top 14 teams.

With player welfare and the aim to reduce games the French are not going to remove teams from the top 14 they will cut European weekends (like the one lost already that can't be recovered). I do think if theres a big push to reduce games the French will just leave European rugby.

Think to replace the European weekends and keep roughly the same number of rounds the French play, a URC/Premiership Cup (since CVC have a share in both) will be the replacement.

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Post by Welshmushroom Mon 26 Jun 2023, 1:09 pm

LeinsterFan4life wrote:Why would you abandon the challenge Cup? I'm not sure what that has to do with making the HC elite again? The knockouts for the CC were almost more interesting than the HC this year and it also gives those teams a chance to win the trophy.

A few reasons really. The travel vs cost element can't make it a great rate of return for clubs. Add to the fact the pool stages are so vastly uncontested. If they made this particular cup a straight knockout round per round this would at least improve a little. But it doesn't even tick the box for what this tournament was originally designed for which was to bring in teams outside of the already established pro leagues.

Then there is the balance of it. It used to have a fairly even split from all nations in it. In most cases the URC will make up over half the teams assuming Cheetahs are invited in as well.

I actually think dumping the challenge cup will result in sides having to earn their Champions Cup via their leagues which in most cases is way harder than winning the challenge cup were maybe 3-4 sides actually take it seriously enough to win it. It's the same logic why I am glad the backdoor qualification for Welsh Teams is being taken away in the URC. At the end of the day the Champions Cup should be a merit league based qualification.

But it won't matter because with a 10 team Premiership they need to address the amount of teams England get in the Champion Cup. In my eyes that number should be 4.


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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 31 Aug 2023, 12:18 pm

https://www.epcrugby.com/2023/08/31/investec-announced-as-new-champions-cup-title-partner-in-landmark-five-year-agreement/

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Thu 31 Aug 2023, 12:30 pm

Any word on what the deal is worth in comparison to Heineken?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 31 Aug 2023, 2:19 pm

Don't care.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Thu 31 Aug 2023, 2:38 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Don't care.

Must care some bit.... you did go to the effort to read some part of the thread and post a reply.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 31 Aug 2023, 3:40 pm

thebandwagonsociety wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:Don't care.

Must care some bit.... you did go to the effort to read some part of the thread and post a reply.

Just answered the question. Inevitably it will lead to moaning about the mean English anyway.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Fri 01 Sep 2023, 8:53 am

Positive sign of additional sponsors through the inclusion of SA teams.

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Fri 01 Sep 2023, 9:33 am

thebandwagonsociety wrote:Positive sign of additional sponsors through the inclusion of SA teams.
Yeah I can't imagine they are paying peanuts anyway. I do still worry about the group stage format, it's changing again from next year.

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Post by Welshmushroom Sun 10 Sep 2023, 2:11 pm

yappysnap wrote:Bath were truly terrible most of last season, they're far worse than the sum of their parts so I think they could easily be bottom of the pool.

yeah Bath in my opinion are worse than Cardiff based on last season. They were dire. Now granted they have brought some very good players in during the summer. But given the lack of things they have achieved in recent years I dont see how someone can say they are better than Cardiff.

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Post by mikey_dragon Sun 10 Sep 2023, 4:52 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:
yappysnap wrote:Bath were truly terrible most of last season, they're far worse than the sum of their parts so I think they could easily be bottom of the pool.

yeah Bath in my opinion are worse than Cardiff based on last season.  They were dire.  Now granted they have brought some very good players in during the summer.  But given the lack of things they have achieved in recent years I dont see how someone can say they are better than Cardiff.  

I could agree with Bath being better than Cardiff. They have a good head coach, a coaching team and a squad for starters.

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