2019–20 European Rugby Challenge Cup
The 2019–20 European Rugby Challenge Cup will be the sixth edition of the European Rugby Challenge Cup, an annual second-tier rugby union competition for professional clubs. Including the predecessor competition, the original European Challenge Cup, this is the 24th edition of European club rugby's second-tier competition. Clubs from six European nations including Russian and Italian clubs who qualified via the Continental Shield.
|2019–20 European Rugby Challenge Cup|
|Tournament format(s)||Round-robin and Knockout|
|Date||November 2019 - 22 May 2020|
|Venue||Stade de Marseille, Marseille|
20 teams will qualify for the 2019–20 European Challenge Cup; 18 will qualify from the Premiership, Pro14 and Top 14, as a direct result of their domestic league performance, with two qualifying through the 2018–19 Continental Shield. The expected distribution of teams is:
- England: Five teams
- France: at least seven teams
- Italy, Scotland, Wales: six teams
- Five teams from the Pro14, excluding the South African teams, that do not qualify for the 2019-20 European Champions Cup
- One team from Italy qualified through the Continental Shield
- Russia: one team
- One team from Russia qualified through the Continental Shield
No team from Ireland will participate in the competition as all four clubs have qualified for the 2019-20 European Champions Cup.
The following clubs have qualified for the Challenge Cup.
|Premiership||Top 14||Pro14||Qualifying Competition|
Six teams were split into two pools of three to compete in the pool stage of the European Rugby Continental Shield. Each team played the other two teams in its pool twice on a home-and-away basis. The winner of each pool will each other in a two-legged play-off for a place in the Challenge Cup.
The Russian team and the Romanian team which competed in the 2018-19 European Challenge Cup will play each other in a two-legged play-off for a place in the Challenge Cup.
30 March 2019
|Timișoara Saracens||20 – 18||Enisey-STM|
The 20 competing teams will be seeded and split into four tiers; seeding is based on performance in their respective domestic leagues. Where promotion and relegation is in effect in a league, the promoted team is seeded last, or (if multiple teams are promoted) by performance in the lower competition.
|Rank||Top 14||Premiership||Pro 14||Continental Shield|
|2||Stade Français||Bristol Bears||Scarlets||Calvisano|
Based on these seedings, teams are placed into one of the four tiers, with the top-seeded clubs being put in Tier 1. The nature of the tier system means that a draw is needed to allocate two of the three second-seed clubs to Tier 1. The fourth-seed team from the same domestic league as the second-seed team which was put in Tier 2 will also be placed in Tier 2. Brackets show each team's seeding and their league. e.g. 1 Top 14 indicates the team was the top seed from the Top 14.
Given the nature of the Continental Shield, a competition including developing rugby nations and Italian clubs not competing in the Pro14, the qualifying teams from this competition are automatically included in Tier 4.
|Tier 1||Wasps (1 Prem)||Cardiff Blues (1 Pro14)||Castres (1 Top 14)||(2 TBC)||(2 TBC)|
|Tier 2||(2 TBC)||Worcester Warriors (3 Prem)||Edinburgh (3 Pro14)||Toulon (3 Top 14)||(4 TBC)|
|Tier 3||(4 TBC)||(4 TBC)||London Irish (5 Prem)||Zebre (5 Pro14)||Pau (5 Top 14)|
|Tier 4||Agen (6 Top 14)||Bayonne (7 Top 14)||Brive (8 Top 14)||Enisey-STM (CS 1)||Calvisano (CS 2)|