In a surprising twist given their miserable season, London Wasps could be in next season’s Heineken Cup if Edinburgh and Clermont win their respective semi-finals this weekend.
According to the ERC; “If either Edinburgh Rugby or ASM Clermont Auvergne win the Heineken Cup, then the 24th place in the 2012/13 tournament will be allocated to the highest ranked non-French club in the ERC European Rankings which has not qualified through its domestic qualification process. Based on the ERC European Rankings which reward consistent performance over four seasons, London Wasps will secure the 24th place provided they retain their Aviva Premiership status.”
The outcome would be different however if Ulster and Leinster were to win, with Connacht picking up the extra spot instead. On the other hand, if Wasps are relegated, their spot would go to the club highest ranked beneath them that has not already qualified for next year’s tournament, which would be Bath.
HEINEKEN CUP QUALIFICATION
Each of the six competing nations are guaranteed a minimum number of places with the qualification criteria for these places set by the relevant Unions / governing bodies
England: six places (performance in Aviva Premiership and LV= Cup winner)
France: six places (performance in the Top 14 Orange)
Wales: three places (performance in the RaboDirect Pro 12)
Ireland: three places (performance in the RaboDirect Pro 12)
Italy: two places
Scotland: two places
The remaining 23 and 24th places are determined by who wins the previous season’s Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup. Both tournament winners are guaranteed a place in the 2012/13 Heineken Cup and they can also potentially earn their country an additional place in the tournament.
France and England are each limited to seven clubs in the tournament and if either England or France win both ERC competitions, they cannot exceed seven places, while Italy and Scotland cannot exceed two.