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Leinster to host Bath, Toulouse away to Cardiff as EPCR confirm matches

By Kim Ekin

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Toulouse will travel to Cardiff in the opening round of the Heineken Champions Cup in December, while Irish heavyweights Leinster will host Bath at the Aviva Stadium.

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Stade Toulousain – the titans of Pool B – and the Welsh capital side will be reprising their roles in the historic inaugural final. The game will be televised live on BT Sport as well as free-to-air in the UK and Ireland on Channel 4 and Virgin Media.

In a similar set-up to last year, BT Sport in the UK and Ireland, and beIN SPORTS in France, will broadcast each of the 48 Heineken Champions Cup pool matches live, while there will also be free-to-air transmission of key fixtures in each round by Channel 4 and Virgin Media in the UK and Ireland, and by France Télévisions in France.

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Irish giants Leinster Rugby will open their campaign with a Round 1 tie in Pool A against Bath Rugby at the Aviva Stadium also on Saturday, 11 December, while Harlequins, who won the 2021 Gallagher Premiership in such spectacular style, will travel to play Castres Olympique on Sunday, 12 December in Pool B.

Highlights of the back-to-back clashes in Rounds 2 and 3 feature the Pool A matches between Sale Sharks and ASM Clermont Auvergne on Saturday, 18 December and Sunday, 16 January 2022, as well as the meetings of Stade Francais Paris and Bristol Bears in Pool B on Sunday, 19 December and Saturday, 15 January 2022.

Last season’s defeated finalists, Stade Rochelais, will attempt to go one better when they launch their European campaign against Glasgow Warriors in Pool A at Stade Marcel-Deflandre on Sunday, 12 December, and the tournament will get under way on Friday, 10 December when Northampton Saints host Racing 92 at the cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

The Heineken Champions Cup will be competed for by 24 clubs, including nine previous winners with as many as 38 European titles between them, in two pools of 12 over four pool stage rounds. The eight highest-ranked clubs from each pool will qualify for the knockout stage which will consist of a Round of 16 on a home and away basis, quarter-finals and semi-finals, with the final in Marseille on 28 May 2022. The clubs ranked nine to 11 in each of the pools will qualify for the Round of 16 of the EPCR Challenge Cup.

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A modified Challenge Cup format will see 15 clubs competing in three pools over five pool stage rounds with Saracens marking their return to European competition with a Round 1 match in Pool C against Edinburgh Rugby at the StoneX Stadium on Saturday, 11 December.

The 2012 winners, Biarritz Olympique, are also back in Europe after an absence of seven years and their opening Pool A tie on Saturday, 11 December sees them up against Zebre Rugby Club at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi while three-time finalists, RC Toulon, start out in Round 2 at Stade Félix Mayol also against Zebre on Friday, 17 December.

Clubs will only play against opponents from their own pool, and one club in each pool will have a bye during each round. The exact dates and kick-off times for the Round 5 fixtures on 8/9/10 April 2022 will be announced later in the season.

The three highest-ranked clubs from each pool, and the highest-ranked fourth-placed club, as well as six Heineken Champions Cup clubs, will qualify for the Round of 16 which will be played on the weekend of 15/16/17 April 2022, followed by quarter-finals and semi-finals, with the final at the Stade Vélodrome, Marseille on 27 May 2022.

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Leinster to host Bath, Toulouse away to Cardiff as EPCR confirm matches

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