With fans from over 100 countries watching this weekend's action from Europe's premier club tournament on television, the games will be even more intensely monitored by supporters in North London and the west of Ireland as the results of the Heineken Cup semifinals in Dublin and Bordeaux could see a coveted place in next season's European Cup going to either London Wasps or Connacht.
While Ulster, Edinburgh, ASM Clermont Auvergne and Leinster, as well as the four Amlin Challenge Cup semifinalists, are focused on European glory, the outcome of both tournaments will have an impact on qualification for next season's Heineken Cup.
If Ulster and Leinster both happen to win their semifinals this weekend, Connacht will be guaranteed a place in next season's Heineken Cup.
However, if Edinburgh and ASM Clermont Auvergne win their semifinal matches, then the 24th place in the 2012/13 Heineken Cup will go to London Wasps provided they retain their Premiership status for next season.
2012/13 Heineken Cup qualification scenarios
If either Ulster or Leinster win the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, 19 May, then Ireland will have four clubs - Connacht, Leinster, Munster Rugby and Ulster - in next season's tournament
If either Edinburgh 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.
France will have seven clubs in next season's tournament. With Toulon, Stade Francais Paris, Biarritz Olympique and Brive through to the Amlin Challenge Cup semifinals, a French winner of the tournament is assured so securing France an additional seventh place in the 2012/13 Heineken Cup.
* Please note that the ERC European Rankings are finalised after the completion of both the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup tournaments.
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 Premiership and LV= Cup winner)
France: six places (performance in the Top 14)
Wales: three places (performance in the Pro12)
Ireland: three places (performance in the Pro12)
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.
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