Italian sides to lose automatic Champions Cup spot

The top-seven sides in the PRO12 will now qualify each season

BY Daniel Kelly 11:34 Thursday 18 May 2017, 11:34 18 May 2017

Zebre and Treviso players in action during a PRO12 match earlier this month. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Giuseppe Fama

Italian teams will no longer be guaranteed a spot in the champions Cup from the 2018-19 season.

Since the creation of the reformatted tournament, the top-placed Italian team in the PRO12 was guaranteed a place in the following season's Champions Cup. The EPCR have revealed that this is the final year of that arrangement. 

"At the conclusion of 2017/18, the seven highest-ranked clubs from the Guinness PRO12 will qualify for the following season's Champions Cup regardless of their country of origin", the EPCR revealed in a statement. "This will replace the current format which requires that at least one club from each of Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales is included in the seven qualifiers."

The top-six teams from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14 will also qualify for the following season's competition. The twentieth and final spot will be taken by the winners of each season's Challenge Cup. Should the winner have already qualified by league position, the runner-up will take that place.

"These changes are designed to strengthen both the Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup," EPCR Director General, Vincent Gaillard revealed.

Martin Anayi, the CEO of the PRO12 also welcomed the changes, claiming it will add a " true meritocracy" to the league.

"Competition has never been greater among our clubs and these latest reforms will deliver true meritocracy to our Championship. In this past season we have been greatly encouraged by the performances of our teams in the Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup and this development will prime them to make a greater impact in the future."

This season, saw Treviso take the sole Italian spot by finishing in tenth place. The Italian side finished 30 points behind seventh-placed Cardiff Blues have won six games fewer.


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