Paris (AFP)

Twenty-four clubs, including eight French representatives, will compete in the European Rugby Cup next season, a decision which should be confirmed next week, AFP learned Friday from sources familiar with the matter.

The EPCR board, the organizer of the European Cups, is indeed scheduled for June 24 and should validate a formula for twenty-four teams, two pools of twelve, according to these sources.

The next day, June 25, the steering committee of the National Rugby League meets in turn and should activate the qualification system, which allows eight Top 14 clubs to qualify.

In mid-May, the EPCR confirmed that it was studying the redesign of the European Cup. "To take into account the exceptional circumstances at the end of the season in our three leagues," said Vincent Gaillard, director general of the body at AFP.

"The intention to reschedule the three weekends of the finals remains absolutely intact. We are working on scenarios which would consist in rescheduling them between mid-September and mid-October, with the two finals of Champions Cup and Challenge October 16 and 17 in Marseille ", he also said about the current season, which has been stopped for the moment in the quarter-finals.

Uncertainty remains on the other hand on the name of the eight qualified French clubs: indeed, according to a source close to the file, in the event of a French victory in Challenge, the winner would take the place of the eighth of the classification.

The top seven in the Top 14, frozen since mid-March, will therefore be European next season: Bordeaux-Bègles, Lyon, Racing 92, Toulon, La Rochelle, Clermont and Toulouse.

In Challenge, Toulon and Bordeaux-Bègles are still in the race but already guaranteed their ticket for the European Cup. Only Castres (10th in the Top 14), who must face the Leicester Tigers in the quarterfinals, can still dislodge Montpellier, 8th and last qualified.

© 2020 AFP