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Heineken Champions Cup to return in knockout format in April


The Heineken Champions Cup pool stages are to be abandoned, with the remainder of the competition to be played in a knockout format.

Premiership Rugby's CEO Darren Childs confirmed the news this evening, saying it had been agreed upon by the EPCR executive.

Rounds 3 and 4 of the pool stage were postponed this week following the French government's heightened Covid-19 protocols.

And although the EPCR said they would strive to complete the tournament schedule, they have now decided to play the competition over the remaining four weekends.

PRL Chief Executive Darren Childs said:

"The decision was made very quickly by the executive at EPCR that we would not try to reschedule those games.

"We have a tough season. There’s no space at the end of the season because of the Lions and we have no spare weekends in our season once we resume.

"To play European rounds when the Lions is taking place would have been very damaging to the European tournament. So it was decided very quickly by all three leagues CEOs that we would complete the tournament in the four remaining weekends.

"Everyone is managing their domestic and international calendars to the best of their ability. The exact structure has not been agreed and we’ve already started those discussions," Childs said.

The EPCR will reveal details of the new structure in due course, but it's believed they will send the top 16 teams through to the next round, with the competition decided over four rounds of knockout games.

Should this format be adopted, both Leinster and Munster would advance to the latter stages of the competition, with Ulster and Connacht to miss out, having both lost their opening two games.

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