Cardiff Blues' Heineken Champions Cup qualification hopes could be reignited if Leinster defend their European crown against Saracens at Newcastle next week.
Following defeat to Ospreys at Judgement Day, and a fifth-placed finish in Conference A of the Guinness PRO14, it seemed as if ambitions of a second consecutive season on Europe's top table were over for John Mulvihill's men.
However, should results go in Cardiff Blues' favour, they could face Scarlets in the Champions Cup qualifier later this month, with Ospreys qualifying automatically.
PRO14 Rugby have clarified the situation around scheduling and make-up of the Play-Off game to decide the seventh and potential eighth Champions Cup qualifier(s).
The tournament rules state that the seventh Champions Cup place from the Guinness PRO14 will be decided in a Play-Off game between the fourth-placed teams from Conference A and B or between the highest-ranked eligible teams who have not automatically qualified.
In this instance a Play-Off would take place between Ospreys (A4, 58 points) and Scarlets (B4, 52 points).
However, should Leinster Rugby win the Champions Cup on May 11 this would open up the possibility that the Guinness PRO14 could earn an eighth place in the 2019/20 Champions Cup competition.
In such circumstances, the tournament rules state that the highest-ranked team not automatically qualified for the Champions Cup will be awarded the seventh PRO14 place, in this case Ospreys would be automatically entered into next season’s Champions Cup.
The eighth place would then be decided by a Play-Off game between the two-highest ranked teams remaining who have not qualified, in this case that would see Cardiff Blues host Scarlets by virtue of the Blues’ higher points total.
What Happens Next?
Should Leinster Rugby lose the Champions Cup Final then Ospreys will host Scarlets in the European Play-Off game on Saturday, May 18 at 19:45 with the winner qualifying for the Champions Cup. The game will be broadcast live on Premier Sports.
What Happens if Leinster retain the Champions Cup?
The European Play-Off game would not be able to take place until Wednesday, May 29 at the earliest because of the live permutations surrounding the potential eighth Champions Cup place
PRO14 would receive an extra place if all of the Challenge Cup semi-finalists qualify automatically through their in positions the Premiership and Top 14.
ASM Clermont Auvergne are highly likely to qualify for automatically via the Top 14 while La Rochelle, Harlequins and Sale Sharks are all at the lower reaches of the qualifying places from their domestic leagues.
Currently Harlequins and Sale Sharks occupy the final two automatic places from the Premiership and ASM Clermont Auvergne and La Rochelle occupy the second and sixth automatic places, respectively, in the Top 14. The final round of the Premiership takes place on May 18 and the final round of the Top 14 takes place on May 25.
Should either of La Rochelle, Sale Sharks or Harlequins fail to qualify for the Champions Cup via their league position then Ospreys and Scarlets will Play Off for the seventh place as previously stated.
Should all of the aforementioned Challenge Cup teams qualify automatically then Ospreys will receive a place in next season’s Champions Cup while Cardiff Blues will then face Scarlets in a Play-Off game for the eighth qualifying place as per PRO14 tournament regulations.
Cardiff Blues would have home advantage for such a game based upon their higher total of match points (54) compared to Scarlets (52).
In that case a date of Wednesday, May 29 with an evening kick-off time will be confirmed.
Please note: Should Ospreys host the game on May 29 then they will use an alternative venue due to the unavailability of Liberty Stadium.