ERC CHIEF EXECUTIVE DEREK MCGRATH:
"After considering all points of view, the board decided to move the
opening two rounds of the Heineken Cup from September to October and rounds three and four to December.
"The Pool stages will once again be completed in January, but we have moved
the quarter-finals so that the whole of the knock-out phase will now be completed after the Six Nations championship.
"We also decided to build in a one week gap before and after internationals in consideration of the demands on players and their preparations for international matches."
ERC CHAIRMAN, JEAN-PIERRE LUX:
"By separating the Pool stages from the knock-out phase it also means we can
now focus on two distinct phases of the tournament and develop momentum for
"It also means more clubs will be involved for a longer period in the
tournament, therefore maintaining a wider interest in the competition.
"We did consider a six week block for the Pool stages, as well as a proposal
for two blocks of three matches. In the end, three groups of two games
received more support.
"ERC feels that by having blocks of two matches of the tournament allows
the clubs to promote key home and away fixtures in three significant rugby
The format of the PARKER PEN SHIELD for next season was also discussed and
the board resolved to develop the concept of a knock-out format for the
competition for next season.
There will be a special meeting of the ERC rugby sub-committee in the near
future to further discuss the matter and table plans. In the meantime, the
clubs, Unions, sponsors and broadcasters will continue to be consulted.
HEINEKEN CUP 2002/2003
Round 1: 11/12/13 October
Round 2: 18/19/20 October
Round 3: 6/7/8 December
Round 4: 13/14/15 December
Round 5: 10/11/12 January
Round 6: 17/18/19 January
Quarter-Finals: 11/12/13 April
Semi-Finals: 26/27 April
HEINEKEN CUP FINAL: 24 May
As the countdown continues for RWC2015, Tournament Chief Executive Debbie Jevans visited the Millennium Stadium to discuss preparations for the eight matches and reveal the positive news that 100,000 tickets for games at the home of Welsh rugby have sold in the last seven days.
Jason Harries is targeting a first win on the World Series circuit this season with Wales. The series returns to action this weekend in Dubai where Harries is part of a team hoping to build from its efforts in round one in October.
Wales skipper Jevon Groves says his side have addressed a few points from Gold Coast and aim to 'hit the ground running' in the next two rounds of the World Series, kicking off with this weekend in Dubai before heading off to South Africa next week.
Wales Sevens manager Steff Thomas is hopeful his side can build from a quarter-final spot in the opening round of the World Series in Australia when his side take part in the forthcoming double header in Dubai and South Africa.