Rugby Union: New format agreed for European Cup

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The Independent Online
The format for next season's European Cup, which has been worrying the Rugby Football Union before they give approval for English clubs to take part, has been settled, according to reports in France.

There will be 20 teams - four each from France, England and Wales, three each from Ireland and Scotland, and one from Italy. The 20th place will be decided by a play-off between the second Italian team and the top Romanian side. This is because of the extremely poor showing of Farul Constanta in this year's competition, and is an attempt to ensure that only strong teams qualify.

There are to be four pools of five teams, and each team will play two home and two away matches. The top team in each pool will progress to the semi-finals. The matches are all to be played by the end of November, to clear the path for the Five Nations' Championship later in the season.

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