Champions Cup plans for next season will see a 16 ax two legged round and a longer gap in the final stages

The Champions Cup organizers have guaranteed that there will be a wider gap between the later knockout stages next season, with no return of the two-legged round of 16 games after scrapping a weekend of competition.

here has been some criticism of the compressed back-to-back schedule from quarter-final to semi-final this month, which put pressure on the final four competitors to organize travel and match scheduling. This will no longer occur in the next term.

However, with such a tight calendar in a World Cup season, there will have to be a quick run-off between the round of 16 and the quarter-finals, with just a week between those games.

This could cause problems if a team in the Northern Hemisphere is pulled away to a potential South African qualifier.

While there is no final decision on next season’s format, there will be a more traditional divide between the final knockout stages, due to the potential for up to three South African teams to be included for the first time.

The Heineken Champions Cup 2022/23 and the EPCR Challenge Cup, played over eight weekends, will begin in December with two consecutive action-packed weekends in the group stage, and the subsequent rounds of the pool stage will take place over consecutive weekends in mid-January 2023.

The knockout stages will kick off the weekend of March 31 – April 1/2, with the Round of 16 matches quickly followed by the quarter-finals on April 7/8/9.

The semifinals will start in the last weekend of April, the finals will take place on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 May 2023.

EPCR Chief Executive Anthony Lepage said: “We are coming to the climax of what has been a challenging season for European club rugby and have been able to welcome fans back to the stadiums from the resumption of our competitions in early April.

“We have seen the very best that EPCR competitions have to offer and are building what will no doubt be a sensational rugby weekend for our final later this month.

“As we look ahead to next season, we are excited to announce the dates of our competitions and we will be announcing the formats in the coming weeks.”

The formats of both competitions are currently being finalized and an announcement is expected ahead of this season’s showpieces in Marseille on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 May.

2022/23 weekends

Round 1 – 9/10/11 Dec 2022

Round 2 – 17/17/18 December 2022

Round 3 – 13/14/15 January 2023

Round 4 – 21/21/22 January 2023

Round of 16 – 31 March / 1/2 April 2023

Quarter-finals – 7/8/9 April 2023

Semifinals – 28/29/30 April 2023

EPCR Challenge Cup Final – Friday 19 May 2023

Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 20 May 2023

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