18 May, 15:44
It's down to the wire now for the five contenders who have been shortlisted for the ultimate individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby, ERC European Player of the Year 2013.
Wales, who launched their new five-region domestic format last summer, were allowed all five to participate in this season's Heineken Cup.
But the WRU confirmed they would then conform with ERC by which the six stakeholder nations - England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales - each have at least one team in the Parker Pen Challenge Cup tournament.
With Wales joining Ireland and Scotland in being able to provide just one side for the Parker Pen Challenge Cup tournament, and Italy failing to earn a meritocracy Heineken Cup place, it is left to a straight battle between England and France to have a seventh team in next season's Heineken Cup.
And it could go down to the wire - the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham on Sunday, 23 May - to determine which of the two nations has advanced the furthest and had the most successful campaign in the ninth season of European club rugby's premier tournament.
The allocation of the initial 23 places for the 10th season of the tournament are:
England and France - six (6) teams each (including one meritocracy place each)
Wales - four (4) teams
Ireland - three (3) teams (including one meritocracy place)
Italy and Scotland - two (2) teams each
Ireland will nominate their teams based on performances in the 2003 / 2004 ERC tournaments. Therefore that would allow Connacht to qualify as Ireland 3 if they win the Parker Pen Challenge Cup.
Both the Welsh and Scottish Heineken Cup 2004 / 2005 participants and seedings will be determined on finishing positions in the Celtic League. The current standings and points earned after 17 rounds of the 22-match Celtic League schedule are:
2. Llanelli Scarlets - 53 points
3. The Dragons - 52 points
4. Celtic Warriors - 44 points
5. Neath-Swansea Ospreys - 44 points
8. Cardiff Blues - 38 points
10. Edinburgh Rugby - 34 points
11. Glasgow Rugby - 24 points
12. The Borders - 21 points
ENGLAND / FRANCE / ITALY QUALIFYING FORMATS
1. Zurich Premiership Final winner
2. Zurich Premiership Finalist
3. Zurich Premiership semi-finalist
4. Parker Pen Challenge Cup Winner
5. Wildcard Winner
6. Powergen Cup Winner
If an English club wins the Heineken Cup they would take top seed and all others would drop down. If there are multiple qualifications then it goes to premiership fourth, fifth etc.
Wildcard is determined by the four highest premiership clubs who have not automatically qualified for the Heineken Cup by the end of the normal season (8th May) qualify for the wildcard position.
1. French Championship winners
2. French Championship runners-up
3. Heineken Cup winners
4. Parker Pen Challenge Cup winners
5. Challenge Sud Radio winners (Castres Olympique)
6. Best losing French Championship semi-finalist
If there are multiple qualifications and/or no ERC tournament winners then the other French Championship semi-finalist, followed by the club with the highest French championship ranking, will qualify.
1. Italian Championship winners
2. Italian Championship runners-up