A 71-match Heineken Champions Cup format was confirmed on Monday, after the Gallagher Premiership and French Top14 concluded over the weekend.
Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connacht will begin their campaign for Champions Cup qualification in December, as they form part of the 24 clubs competing for Toulouse's title.
The clubs will be divided into two pools of 12, Pool A and Pool B, by means of a draw and the tournament will be played over nine weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage.
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, semi-finals and the final in Marseille on 28 May 2022.
The draw for the pools will be carried out on the same lines as the previous season, with the clubs separated into four tiers, and clubs from the same league in the same tier will not be drawn into the same pool.
The first and second ranked clubs from each league will be in Tier 1, the third and fourth ranked clubs will be in Tier 2, the fifth and sixth ranked clubs will be in Tier 3, and the seventh and eighth ranked clubs will be Tier 4.
The Tier 1 and the Tier 4 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool, but which are not in the same league, will play one another home and away during the pool stage, as will the Tier 2 and Tier 3 clubs which have been drawn in the same pool.
The date of the pool draw is yet to be announced, however it will be live streamed on HeinekenChampionsCup.com.
EPCR is currently putting the finishing touches to a new shareholder agreement, and discussions to finalise the Challenge Cup format for the 2021/22 season, as well as the formats for the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup for future seasons, are currently ongoing.
These discussions include the future participation of South African clubs in EPCR’s tournaments as referenced recently by the United Rugby Championship, however the EPRC has said that they have no further comment on the South African franchises at this stage.
2021/22 Heineken Champions Cup qualifiers
Gallagher Premiership: Harlequins, Exeter Chiefs, Bristol Bears, Sale Sharks, Northampton Saints, Leicester Tigers, Bath Rugby, Wasps
Guinness PRO14: Leinster Rugby, Munster Rugby, Ulster Rugby, Connacht Rugby, Scarlets, Ospreys, Cardiff Rugby, Glasgow Warriors
TOP 14: Stade Toulousain, Stade Rochelais, Racing 92, Union Bordeaux-Bègles, ASM Clermont Auvergne, Stade Français Paris, Castres Olympique, Montpellier Hérault Rugby
2021/22 key dates
Round 1 – 10/11/12 December
Round 2 – 17/18/19 December
Round 3 – 14/15/16 January 2022
Round 4 – 21/22/23 January 2022
Round of 16 (1st leg) – 8/9/10 April 2022
Round of 16 (2nd leg) – 15/16/17 April 2022
Quarter-finals – 6/7/8 May 2022
Semi-finals – 13/14/15 May 2022
Challenge Cup final – Friday 27 May 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 28 May 2022; Stade Vélodrome, Marseille