Champions Cup officials have confirmed changes have been made to their 2019/20 semi-final format, with clubs such as Exeter Chiefs now allowed to play these matches at their home ground rather than at a neutral venue in their country.

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Semi-finals have been played at a variety of venues in recent times. For instance, defending champions Saracens defeated Munster at Coventry in 2019 rather than in London, Racing beat Munster in Bordeaux in 2018 instead of Paris, and Munster lost their 2017 home semi to Saracens in Dublin. 

However, the path has now been cleared for all teams to be able to play at home, a luxury only ever technically enjoyed by the likes of Leinster and Toulouse who have traditionally moved their semi-finals to bigger, familiar grounds nearby in their cities.  

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The Rugby Pod has its say on the red card tackle that has ruled Saracens’ Owen Farrell out of this weekend’s Champions Cup quarter-final at Leinster

Both of the delayed 2019/20 season’s semi-final will take place on Saturday, September 26, a week after this weekend’s quarter-finals.  

The winners of Leinster v Saracens and Clermont v Racing 92 Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals will meet in the first semi-final, with the second later that day featuring the winners of Exeter v Northampton and Toulouse v Ulster.

On an exceptional basis to facilitate the conclusion of the season, EPCR have confirmed that the highest-ranked clubs from the pool stage will have home venue advantage in the semi-finals.

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In the Challenge Cup, the winners of Bristol v Dragons and Bordeaux v Edinburgh will play their semi-final on Friday, September 25, with the winners of Toulon v Scarlets and Leicester v Castres meeting the next day.

The highest-ranked clubs from the pool stage will have home venue advantage, as per the traditional Challenge Cup format. 

HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP SEMI-FINALS – Saturday 26 September

SF 1: Winner Leinster/Saracens v winner Clermont /Racing 92
Kick-off: 13.00 UK-Irish time or 14.00 French time

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SF 2: Winner Exeter/Northampton v winner Toulouse/Ulster Rugby
Kick-off: 15.30 UK-Irish time or 16.30 French time

Semi-final 1
If Leinster (ranked No1) and Clermont (ranked No4) win their quarter-finals, Leinster will have home venue advantage
If Leinster (ranked No1) and Racing 92 (ranked No5) win their quarter-finals, Leinster will have home venue advantage
If Clermont (ranked No4) and Saracens (ranked No8) win their quarter-finals, Clermont will have home venue advantage
If Racing 92 (ranked No5) and Saracens (ranked No8) win their quarter-finals, Racing will have home venue advantage

Semi-final 2
If Exeter (ranked No2) and Toulouse (ranked No 3) win their quarter-finals, Exeter will have home venue advantage
If Exeter (ranked No2) and Ulster (ranked No 6) win their quarter-finals, Exeter will have home venue advantage
If Toulouse (ranked No3) and Northampton (ranked No 7) win their quarter-finals, Toulouse will have home venue advantage
If Ulster (ranked No6) and Northampton (ranked No 7) win their quarter-finals, Ulster will have home venue advantage

CHALLENGE CUP SEMI-FINALS

Friday 25 September
SF 2: Winner Bristol/Dragons v winner Bordeaux/Edinburgh
Kick-off: 19.45 UK time or 20.45 French time

Saturday 26 September
SF 1: Winner Toulon/Scarlets v winner Leicester/Castres
Kick-off: 20.00 UK time or 21.00 French time

Semi-final 1
If Toulon (ranked No1) and Leicester (ranked No4) win their quarter-finals, Toulon will have home venue advantage
If Toulon (ranked No1) and Castres (ranked No5) win their quarter-finals, Toulon will have home venue advantage
If Leicester (ranked No4) and Scarlets (ranked No8) win their quarter-finals, Leicester will have home venue advantage
If Castres (ranked No5) and Scarlets (ranked No8) win their quarter-finals, Castres will have home venue advantage

Semi-final 2
If Bristol (ranked No2) and Bordeaux (ranked No3) win their quarter-finals, Bristol will have home venue advantage
If Bristol (ranked No2) and Edinburgh (ranked No6) win their quarter-finals, Bristol will have home venue advantage
If Bordeaux (ranked No3) and Dragons (ranked No7) win their quarter-finals, Bordeaux-Bègles will have home venue advantage
If Edinburgh (ranked No6) and Dragons (ranked No7) win their quarter-finals, Edinburgh will have home venue advantage

Notes
• The Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-finals in England and Ireland are currently scheduled to be played behind closed doors.
• Attendances for quarter-finals in France will be limited and clubs can apply to their local authorities for increases. 

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