7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
They join Biarritz and Agen as Heineken Cup qualifiers who each finished the Pool stage as respective Pool winners.
Places in the Heineken Cup are allocated to the six competing nations on the following basis:
5 France, England
2 Ireland, Scotland and Italy
The remaining four places in the 24 team tournament are allocated on a meritocracy basis. No country can earn more than one meritocracy place and the extra places are based on performance by the clubs from each country. Nations who have a team that reaches the semi-finals are guaranteed an extra place the following season. If a country has more than one team in the semi-finals, then the criteria is based on quarter-final places and then Pool results.
Each nation sets its own criteria for qualification for the Heineken Cup. Here is a list of criteria set for next season's Heineken Cup.
FRANCE - With two teams in the semi-finals this season, Toulouse and Perpignan, France will have six teams in the 2003/2004 Heineken Cup.
1. French champion 2. Finalist of French championship 3. Winner of the Heineken Cup 4. Winner of the PARKER PEN CHALLENGE CUP, 5 and 6 Winners of the two Pools at Pool stage
If there is a doubling up, or if there is no French winner of the Heineken Cup or PARKER PEN CHALLENGE CUP, the final rankings of the French championship will be taken into account.
ENGLAND - Even though they did not get a team into the semi-finals, England are guaranteed a meritocracy place by having two teams in the quarter-finals.
Premiership Clubs will qualify for a place in the Heineken Cup (and be ranked) in the following order for the 2003/04 season based on results in the 2002/03 season:
1. Zurich Premiership Final Winner 2. Zurich Premiership Final Runner Up 3. Zurich Premiership Semi final Runner Up 4. PARKER PEN CHALLENGE CUP Winner 5. Zurich Wildcard Winner 6. Powergen Cup Winner 7. If there are multiple qualifications then the team in fourth place Zurich Premiership and if necessary 8. Zurich Premiership fifth place.
WALES - The Welsh Rugby Union has cut its Premier League from nine clubs to five regional sides from next season. Llanelli reached the quarter-finals this season to book an extra place for Wales to take them to five teams next season. It means that all five new regions will play in the Heineken Cup next season.
IRELAND - The Irish Rugby Union will determine which three of its four Provincial teams will be entered into the Heineken Cup next season. Leinster Lions and Munster have reached the semi-finals to date this season to guarantee a meritocracy place.
SCOTLAND - The Scots will have two of their three Provincial teams in the Heineken Cup next season. These will be the two top ranked teams from their Inter-Provincial Championship.