Champions Cup set to ditch ‘mega pool’ format

Champions Cup set to ditch ‘mega pool’ format

The Champions Cup competition looks likely to abandon two groups of 12 and go back to six pools of four, possibly as early as next season, writes The Times.

For the past three seasons, the 24 competing teams have been split into two “mega” pools in which they play only two of the other clubs home and away to determine their place in the overall standings. This has led to complaints of perceived imbalances in the fixture list, as well as the lack of clarity for supporters trying to follow the competition.

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), which runs the Champions Cup and the second-tier Challenge Cup, has spent months engaging with clubs, leagues, unions and supporters on the subject. It is expected that the elite competition will adopt a format not dissimilar to the previous arrangement of six pools of four, with teams in each pool playing each other hame and away.

The changes could come into effect as early as next season's competiton.

The EPCR chairman, Dominic McKay, said: "We'll definitely evolve our format, there's no doubt about that. How we do it is still being finessed at the moment. The readability of the tournament needs to be easy for everyone to access; that means our existing supporters, naturally, but we've also got ambition to grow our clubs and leagues to grow our supporters base and support our clubs and leagues to grow rugby into new markets.

"One of the easiest ways to do that is the readability of the tournament. Can you explain it in a couple of sentences? That's what we are interested in doing, while also making sure we have a structure that creates real supporting jeopardy for as many games as we possibly can.

"There are a few things for us to wood. We're definitely getting there and it's important that we do our own research and our thinking in a thoughtful way, that we engage with our stakeholders..."

Full story via The Times.

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