Found on L’Equipe:
Apparently the 24-team proposition for next year’s ERC that French teams proposed seems to be seen favorably by English and Celt teams.
From what I gathered from the format…
- 2 pools of 12 teams: 4 French, 4 English, 4 Celt in each
- In each pool, you get 4 groups of 3 teams (1F, 1E, 1C) playing each other twice, home and away. So each team would have 4 pool games
- Then the 12 teams of the pool get ranked 1 to 12, with the top 4 going through
- QF would be 1A v 4B, 2A v 3B, 3A v 2B and 4A v 1B – with two legs, ala football Champions League
- Semis would also get two legs
- Grand final
In total, the hypothetical winner would play 4 + 2 + 2 + 1 = 9 games, exactly like it does now. But it would have fewer pool games and more elimination rounds.
It looks like a hidden “8 pools of 3” system, but I assume the “2 of 12” is there to give a chance to teams that have to face a big opponent. This way, 3-0-1 teams could make it through despite being behind one of their opponents. It is supposed to make every game important (and honestly I won’t be sad if the best 2nd system has to go).
The 2 pools might look like (F: Top 14, E: Premiership, CA: Pro14 pool A, CB: Pro 14 pool B)
Pool A: F1, CA1, E2, E3, CB2, CB3, F4, F5, CA4, E6, E7, F8
Subpools: (F1, CA4, E6) (CA1, E7, F4) (E3, CB3, F5) (E2, CB2, F8)
Pool B: E1, CB1, F2, F3, CA2, CA3, E4, E5, CB4, F6, F7, E8
Subpools: (E1, CB4, F6) (CB1, F7, E4) (F3, CA3, E5) (F2, CA2, E8)
For the record, with the current rankings, this would look like:
Pool A: (Bordeaux-Bègles (1), Bath (6), Dragons (4A)) (Toulon (4), Harlequins (7), Leinster (1A)) (La Rochelle (5), Bristol (3), Scarlets (3B)) (Montpellier (8), Sale (2), Munster (2B))
Pool B: (Clermont (6), Exeter (1), Connacht (4B)) (Toulouse (7), Northampton (4), Edimburgh (1B)) (Racing (3), Wasps (5), Glasgow (3A)) (Lyon (2), London Irish (8), Ulster (2A))
I bolded the pools in which the “ranking of 12” would give a big name a shot to make it despite not topping its pool of 3.
The reason France proposed that format was to avoid having to solve the “who get the 6 spots” with league having stopped. For example, Toulouse is 7th, in large part due to how many players they had to give away for both the RWC and the 6N – the exact kind of team that tends to finish strong because from March onwards they have their full squad.