The brand new Allianz Riviera in Nice will stage a Heineken Cup fixture for the first time when reigning champions, Toulon, take on Cardiff Blues in a key Round 5 game at the top of Pool 2 onSaturday, 11 January 2014.
With places in the knockout stage of Europe’s premier club rugby tournament on the line, as well as qualification for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals, the drama is set to intensify in the New Year following the announcement today (Wednesday, 18 December) of the dates and kick-off times for the Round 5 and 6 fixtures.
On the same day as Toulon and Cardiff battle it out at the 35,624-capacity venue on the Cote d’Azur, a resurgent Harlequins will host ASM Clermont Auvergne at the Twickenham Stoop in another high-stakes clash which will have a major bearing on who takes the honours in Pool 4.
Also on Saturday, 11 January, Munster Rugby will enter the Kingsholm cauldron as likely candidates to emerge from Pool 6, however, second-placed Gloucester Rugby are bound to have other ideas following the disappointment of Round 4, while on Sunday, 12 January, Toulouse and Saracens meet in a heavyweight Pool 3 contest at Stade Ernest Wallon.
Pool 5 leaders, Ulster Rugby, will get Round 5 underway on Friday, 10 January when Montpellier are the visitors to Ravenhill, and the 1999 champions could be set for a winner-take-all confrontation with Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Saturday, 18 January in Round 6
With 23 of the 24 matches televised live, games in the same pools in Round 6 will have identical kick-off times.
Qualification for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals
The pool winner will be the club with the highest number of match points in each pool. The best-placed runners-up will be the two clubs with the highest number of match points out of the six clubs that finish second in their respective pools. For the quarter-finals, the pool winners will be ranked 1 to 6 and the best-placed runners-up 7 and 8 by reference to the number of match points earned.
If two or more clubs in the same pool are equal on match points, their ranking will be determined by the matches played between the relevant clubs as follows:
- the club with the greater number of match points from those matches; or
- if equal, the club that scored the most tries in those matches; or
- if equal, the club with the best aggregate points difference from those matches.
If ranking remains unresolved and/or if clubs have not played each other previously in the pool stage, ranking will be determined as follows:
- the number of tries scored in the pool stage; or
- if equal, the best aggregate points difference from the pool stage; or
- if equal, the club with the fewest number of players suspended for incidents in the pool stage; or
- if equal, by drawing lots.
The third, fourth and fifth ranked pool runners-up will qualify for the quarter-finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup.