England will have seven clubs in the Heineken Cup 2009/10 tournament courtesy of Leicester Tigers qualifying for the semi-finals later this month and ensuring England are the nation who have progressed further than either France or Italy.
France supplied seven clubs this season as a result of Toulouse contesting the 2008 final but the defeat of the triple champions by Cardiff Blues last Saturday left France without representation in the last four and Leicester's success against Bath Rugby securing the additional place for England.
Over the last six seasons the additional seventh place has now been won by France three times (2005/06; 2006/07 and 2008/09) and England three times (2004/05; 2007/08 and for next season's tournament kicking-off in the autumn).
The guaranteed allocation of teams for the Heineken Cup draw each summer for the composition of the six Pools of four teams each is:
England and France - Six (6) teams each
Ireland and Wales - Three (3) teams each
Scotland and Italy - Two (2) teams each
The winners of both the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup automatically qualify for the following season's Heineken Cup tournament and come out of their nation's allocation of teams.
The 24th Heineken Cup place is due to be decided by a play-off between the highest nonqualifying Magners League team and the third placed Italian Super 10 club.
The directors of ERC voted unanimously at a Board meeting to postpone all decisions including the release of further instalments of ERC's distributable central revenues to the six shareholder countries until 19 February next when the Board will meet again to reconsider the issue.