The why's, what's and wherefore's - How PRO14 Rugby awards places for its teams to compete in the European Champions Cup
PRO14 Rugby is responsible for ranking seven teams to qualify for the European Champions Cup each season.
Since the introduction of the Conference system, the process to select those seven teams has been to reward the top three teams from each Conference with an automatic place. The South African teams are ineligible.
The seventh Champions Cup place is then awarded to the winner of a Play-Off between the highest ranked team from each Conference who has not automatically qualified. The match will be played at the home venue of the club that has the most Championship points at the end of the regular season. Currently, this is scheduled to be Ulster v Ospreys, and will be played on the weekend of 18-20 May.
Should PRO14 Rugby receive an additional Champions Cup place via EPCR’s criteria for selecting the 20th place then the following will occur:
- PRO14 Rugby’s seventh place will be awarded automatically to the team in the Guinness PRO14 with the highest points total who is not already qualified for the Champions Cup. That place would be awarded to Ulster Rugby, who have finished the season ranked 4th in Conference B with 62 points
- A Play-Off will then take place to determine PRO14 Rugby’s eighth Champions Cup berth between the highest ranked team from each Conference who has not automatically qualified. The match will be played at the home venue of the club that has the most Championship points at the end of the regular season. In the case that Ulster were awarded an automatic place, Benetton Rugby, who finished 5th in Conference B with 55 points would host Ospreys who finished 5th in Conference A with 44 points
Criteria needed for PRO14 to receive an eighth place in the European Champions Cup
- Leinster Rugby win the Champions Cup
- All Semi-Finalists from the Challenge Cup qualify for Champions Cup via league standings.
Currently Cardiff Blues, Gloucester and Newcastle Falcons are set to qualify for the Champions Cup, but Pau are not.
EPCR rules governing selection of the 20th Champions Cup place:
- Champions Cup winner, if not already qualified
- Challenge Cup winner, if not already qualified
- Challenge Cup losing finalist, if not already qualified
- Play-off match between losing Challenge Cup Semi-Finalists, if not already qualified
- Highest ranked non-qualified club by virtue of league position from same league as the Champions Cup winner
Please note: PRO14 Rugby will determine their highest-ranked non-qualified team by virtue of a Play-Off after all automatic places have been awarded.