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Champions Cup organisers considering one-city semi-finals weekend in 2025
Rugby union Sport

Champions Cup organisers considering one-city semi-finals weekend in 2025

Champions Cup organisers are exploring the possibility of hosting “destination” semi-finals in the same city in the future with Portugal among the places under consideration.

In a move that would ape the Top 14, which staged both its semi-finals in San Sebastián last season, it is understood that European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) is assessing whether it would be feasible to do so with its competition.

This weekend’s semi-finals were due to be played at neutral venues but with the higher-ranked team having home advantage. In reality, Leinster stayed in Dublin but took their match against Northampton to Croke Park while Toulouse also stayed at home but moved their clash with Harlequins to the nearby football stadium.

In the future both matches could be staged in the same city with places like Porto, Lisbon and Marseille all possibilities. Organisers are unsure whether there would be sufficient demand for matches at genuinely neutral venues given the tight turnaround between the quarter-finals and ­semi-finals but, if further investigation suggests the appetite exists, it could lead to a welcome change in format. The temptation to remain with the status quo is obvious given the combined attendance of the weekend’s two semi-finals was almost 115,000.

If destination semi-finals were to materialise, Portugal would be an obvious place to assess as a potential host given how the nation performed at last year’s World Cup. Spain, too, would be an option, with Bilbao set to host the final in 2026 and organisers looking at introducing a franchise into the Challenge Cup.

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It may help that the fortunes of the Premiership have improved in the competition of late with two sides reaching the semis after years of underachievement and clubs opting to prioritise their domestic league. “We know the odds are stacked against English teams to try and win it, that’s wanted to try and win it but it’s so hard to,” said the Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care. “This year we said we wanted to give it a crack and see where it took us.”

Source: theguardian.com