The inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup has had little media attention in its build up, the distraction of domestic leagues has done little good for the new competition. A gradual hype would really raise its awareness for part time supporters and fans.
The new changes are somewhat controversial, yet should benefit the Pro 12 clubs.
Now, the highest ranked Pro12 team who hasn’t automatically qualified will play against the Aviva Premiership equivalent (7th placed). A toss of a coin will decide home advantage.
The winner of that game will then play at home against the seventh-ranked Top 14 club to decide who qualifies for the premier tournament.
“With this revised Champions Cup play-off format, we have respected the wishes of the three leagues,” said EPCR Director General, Jacques Pineau in a statement.
“The Board of EPCR has agreed an alteration to the initial format in the tournament Heads of Agreement, and we are confident that the play-offs will enhance what promises to be an exciting season of European professional club rugby.”
It has arguably gotten tougher for the Pro12 teams because now they will have to play both an English and a French team rather than just one of them. The prolonging of the season can only be bad news in the cluttered European season that has formed, however it does give all three league a fair representation for the bonus qualification.
Last seasons extra qualification saw Wasps beat Stade Francais convincingly. However with the new format they would have had to play Cardiff blues before.