European Rugby Champions Cup: Who qualifies for the quarter-finals?

Leinster celebrate with the trophy
Leinster won the competition for the fourth time in 2018

This stage of the European Rugby Champions Cup is just a tiny bit complicated.

You basically need a maths degree to work out the permutations going into the final round of the pool stage.

That may be a slight over-exaggeration, but we've taken the time to explain how it all works anyway.

Who qualifies for the quarter-finals?

Let's start with the basics. Teams get four points for a win, two points for a draw and can earn a bonus point for scoring four or more tries or losing by seven points or fewer.

The five pool winners and the three runners-up with the highest number of points qualify for the quarter-finals.

If two clubs in the same pool are equal on points, their ranking is decided by the results of the two matches played between them.

The club with the greatest combined score in the two games is ranked higher. If their scores are equal, ranking is decided on points difference from the two matches.

If their points difference is the same, the team that scored the most tries in the two games is ranked higher.

If the ranking still cannot be determined, it's decided on points difference from the entire pool stage, then number of tries scored, then how many of the team's players were suspended for disciplinary reasons.

In the unlikely event that ranking remains unresolved, teams will draw lots.

Racing 92 players celebrate
French side Racing 92 had the highest number of points after four rounds, with 19

Who gets a home quarter-final?

The pool winners are ranked one to five and the runners-up six to eight according to the number of points they earned in the pool stages.

Sides ranked one to four have a home quarter-final:

  • Club 1 v Club 8 (QF1)
  • Club 4 v Club 5 (QF2)
  • Club 3 v Club 6 (QF3)
  • Club 2 v Club 7 (QF4)

The highest-ranked clubs in the pool stage have home country advantage for the semi-finals, which will be played as follows:

  • Semi-final 1: winner QF1 v winner QF2
  • Semi-final 2: winner QF3 v winner QF4
The Champions Cup trophy at St James' Park
The final will be played at St James' Park, Newcastle on 11 May.

Where they stand

Saracens are the only team to have sealed their quarter-final spot so far and will go through as pool leaders if they defeat Glasgow in the final round.

Munster, Leinster and Edinburgh will also qualify if they remain top of their groups.

Exeter, Ulster and Glasgow are second in their respective pools, vying for the runners-up qualification spots.

Bath, Wasps, Cardiff Blues, Scarlets, Gloucester, Newcastle and Leicester cannot earn enough points to qualify.

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