The makeup of the Challenge and Champions Cup is set for a radical shake-up with the group stages poised to be abandoned, according to a report by The Guardian.
According to The Guardian, the two competitions could proceed straight to a 16-team knockout phase.
This comes after a directive from the French authorities that the participation of TOP 14 clubs in the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup at the current time constitutes too great a public health risk leading to the temporary suspension of the two competitions.
The Guardian states that the precise manner in which the top 16 Champions Cup sides - comprising the leading eight clubs in each section after the opening two rounds – will be drawn against each other.
If the top four sides in Pool A were to host the teams ranked fifth to eighth in Pool B and vice versa in the familiar order - 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6, 4 v 5 - used in past tournaments the round of 16 would read: Leinster v Gloucester, Wasps v Exeter, Bordeaux-Bègles v Bristol, La Rochelle v Clermont, Lyon v Sale, Racing 92 v Toulon, Toulouse v Edinburgh and Munster v Scarlets.
Discussions are still continuing, however, with some within EPCR favouring the idea of the round of 16 initially pairing sides against opponents from their existing group.