Glasgow Warriors: Heineken Champions Cup door opens for Danny Wilson’s side as organisers reveal plans for next season

The way appears to have been cleared for Glasgow Warriors to play in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.

Glasgow Warriors won three of their last four games of the season to finish fourth in Conference A of the Guinness Pro14. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Glasgow Warriors won three of their last four games of the season to finish fourth in Conference A of the Guinness Pro14. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

The make-up of the 2021-22 competition has been confirmed and will once again comprise 24 clubs - eight each from the Guinness Pro14, England’s Gallagher Premiership and France’s Top 14.

It was initially thought that only the top three from each of the two Pro14 conferences would qualify for the Champions Cup.

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Glasgow finished fourth in Conference A, behind Leinster, Ulster and Ospreys.

There were discussions behind the scenes about using the new Rainbow Cup as a potential route into qualification for the Champions Cup, thus opening the door for South African sides to play in the elite European club competition.

However, The Scotsman has learned that the Rainbow Cup will not be used by Pro14 to qualify teams. Conference table rankings after the final round of the Guinness Pro14 season which ended in March is the only method which will be used - good news for Danny Wilson’s Warriors side who won three of their last four games to finish fourth.

The top four in Conference B of the Pro14 were Munster, Connacht, Scarlets and Cardiff Blues. Edinburgh finished fifth, meaning they will miss out on the Champions Cup. They are now expected to take part in next season’s European Challenge Cup.

A statement from European Professional Club Rugby, which runs the Champions Cup, said: “Plans are... advanced for the 2021/22 season with confirmation that 24 clubs – including eight representatives from each of the Gallagher Premiership, TOP 14 and Guinness PRO14 - will once again contest the Heineken Champions Cup. Further details regarding the formats and key dates for EPCR’s tournaments will be communicated as soon as practicable.”

The four South African Super Rugby franchises - Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions - are expected to join an expanded Pro14 next season and could then be assimilated into the European club rugby competitions.

The addition of the big four from South Africa will open new commercial markets for the Pro14 and potentially the EPCR, particularly with regard to lucrative television contracts.

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Meanwhile, the EPCR has also announced that this season’s Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals will be held at Twickenham next month.

Crowds of up to 10,000 will be able to attend both matches.

The Challenge Cup final will be played on Friday May 21, with the Champions Cup final the following day.

Both matches, which were originally due to be held in Marseille, are subject to licences being granted by the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames and tickets go on sale on Friday April 30.

It will be the first time that supporters have been allowed into Twickenham since 2,000 spectators were present for the Autumn Nations Cup final between England and France on December 6.

“We’re looking forward to seeing up to 10,000 fans back at Twickenham again for these EPCR finals and are delighted to be chosen to host the fixtures,” Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney said.

“This is an important opportunity for us to hold events as part of plans for the return of fans to stadia.

“We are working hard with EPCR and local authorities to put various measures in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all those attending each match.”

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