The line-up for the play-off stage of the European Rugby Challenge Cup Qualifying Competition is now confirmed with Enisei Rugby Club of Russia and Romania’s Timisoara Saracens, as well as Rugby Calvisano and Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo from Italy, set to battle it out for two coveted places in the 2016/17 Challenge Cup.
The first series of play-off matches will go ahead on Saturday, 9 April with the decisive games which will reveal the two winners scheduled for Saturday, 23 April.
Following a decision of the EPCR Board, Enisei have been included in the play-offs in recognition of their impressive debut performance in the pool stage of this season’s Challenge Cup during which they registered two wins, while Rugby Calvisano, another participant in this season’s Challenge Cup, also take their place in next month’s play-offs.
To reduce the travel time for the visiting club, and to avoid any possible risk of the match being played in extreme weather conditions, Enisei will stage their ‘home’ game against Rovigo at a venue in Sochi rather than at their base in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia which is a further 5,000 kilometres to the north-east of Sochi.
The Board of EPCR has also decided that the current Russian champions, Krasny Yar, will participate in next season’s Challenge Cup Qualifying Competition.
EPCR Chairman, Simon Halliday, said: “We congratulate Krasny Yar on their playing achievements which have resulted in their being invited to compete in next season’s Qualifying Competition. Krasny Yar’s participation as well as Enisei’s strong showing in the Challenge Cup clearly demonstrates the current depth in Russian club rugby.
“With due regard to visiting clubs, we have asked that both Enisei and Krasny Yar play their ‘home’ matches in Sochi rather than in Krasnoyarsk, and EPCR will be providing assistance in a number of ways to ensure that these fixtures go ahead to the benefit of all.”
Rovigo and Timisoara Saracens have reached the play-offs as the two winners from the pool stage of the Qualifying Competition which concluded in January, and which also featured clubs from the domestic leagues of Rugby Europe member unions, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Belgium.
The aim of the Challenge Cup Qualifying Competition, which is organised by EPCR, Rugby Europe and the Italian Rugby Federation, is to widen the footprint of club rugby across Europe and to give both emerging and established clubs in different territories the opportunity to secure valuable places in the Challenge Cup.
Rankings and play-off fixtures
(The rankings are based on performances in the 2015/16 Challenge Cup and Qualifying Competition)
- Enisei Rugby Club
- Rugby Calvisano
- Timisoara Saracens
- Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo
Saturday 9 April
(kick-offs local times)
Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo v Enisei Rugby Club, Stadio Mario Battaglini (16.00)
Timisoara Saracens v Rugby Calvisano, Dan Paltinisanu Stadium (15.00)
Saturday 23 April
Enisei Rugby Club v Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo, Sochi venue
Rugby Calvisano v Timisoara Saracens, Peroni Stadium (16.00)