Repechage is a practice amongst ladder competitions that allows participants that failed to meet qualifying standards by a small margin to continue to the next round.

Types of repechage

Different types of repechage can occur. As a basis for the examples set forth below, assume that 64 competitors are divided into four pools (16 competitors/pool). The four pools are labeled A, B, C, and D. The first three rounds of this primary championship bracket winnow the primary field down to eight competitors for entry into the championship quarter-final.

Full repechage

In full repechage, a competitor who loses to the pool winner drops into the repechage bracket. The theory is that a worthy competitor, who is paired with another worthy competitor, should not be unduly penalized by luck of the draw, but have an opportunity to at least fight for third place. In our example, four competitors from each pool (the loser to the pool winner in the first, second, third and quarter-final rounds) drop into the repechage bracket. A larger pool results in a longer wait for first round losers to determine if they will compete in repechage.

Quarter-final repechage

Unlike full repechage, quarter-final repechage only pulls losers from the quarter-final round. The prior rounds are single elimination. Losers in the quarter-final from two pools (e.g., A and B) are entered into one bracket of the repechage first round. Quarter-final losers from the other two pools are entered into the other bracket. Repechage losers are placed in seventh place. Winners of these matches play against semifinal losers of opposite bracket. Losers are placed in fifth place and winners are awarded with bronze medal each.

Double elimination repechage

In double elimination repechage, any loser in the championship bracket drops into the repechage bracket. Typically the losers from the championship bracket's first round compete against each other in the repechage first round for the right to compete in the repechage second round (against the championship bracket second round losers). In full double elimination repechage, the eventual repechage bracket winner competes against the championship bracket winner to determine the winner of the overall competition, but the repechage bracket winner must win 2 matches to win the competition whereas the championship bracket winner needs only win one match. In a partial double elimination repechage bracket, the bracket winner (or winners in dual third place scenario) will take third place.

Repechage bracket with two third place finishers

Dual third place finishers can result with full, quarter-final, or double elimination repechage. Losers from two championship bracket pools (e.g., A and B) are placed into one repechage bracket and losers from the other two pools are placed in the other repechage bracket. The winner from each pool's repechage bracket compete against the loser in the championship semi-final that comes from one of that repechage bracket's two pools. Or, in a "cross-over" arrangement, the semi-final loser comes from the other bracket's pools. Each winner of this repechage round takes third place. The losers of the prior two repechage rounds are often considered to take fifth and seventh places.

Consolation bracket

A consolation bracket is a bracket in which losers drop from the primary championship bracket and compete for third place
Third place playoff
The third place playoff is a single match that is included in many sporting knockout tournaments to decide which competitor or team will be credited with finishing third and fourth. The teams that compete in the third place playoffs are usually the two losing semi-finalists in a particular...

 or a lesser consolation prize. Hence, except in the case of full double elimination repechage, a repechage bracket might be referred to as a consolation bracket.

Track and field

In track athletics, automatic qualification for the next round is given to the best competitors in each heat. Other competitors with the best times may also qualify for the next round indirectly as "fastest losers" as a result of the repechage. If a particular heat was significantly faster than the others, the repechage spots can be all taken by athletes from that heat.

In field athletics, automatic qualification for the next round depends on meeting or surpassing a specified minimum result. The remaining qualification spots (if any) are given in order to the best results.

Martial arts

In karate
is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It was developed from indigenous fighting methods called and Chinese kenpō. Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands. Grappling, locks,...

, judo
is a modern martial art and combat sport created in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw or takedown one's opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one's opponent with a grappling maneuver, or force an...

, taekwondo
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon means "to strike or break with fist"; and do means "way", "method", or "path"...

, and wrestling
Wrestling is a form of grappling type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position...

 tournaments, single elimination brackets are used to determine the two athletes who will compete in the final match for first and second place. The repechage bracket is built by selecting all of the athletes who were knocked out by the finalists and building brackets to determine third place. Repechage addresses the possibility of two top competitors meeting in an early round, allowing the loser a chance to compete for a bronze medal. Repechage was formerly widely used in fencing
Fencing, which is also known as modern fencing to distinguish it from historical fencing, is a family of combat sports using bladed weapons.Fencing is one of four sports which have been featured at every one of the modern Olympic Games...

 tournaments, but the majority have now abandoned it— - an exception being United States Fencing Association
United States Fencing Association
The United States Fencing Association is the national governing body for the sport of fencing in the United States.The USFA was founded in 1891 as the Amateur Fencers League of America by a group of New York fencers seeking independence from the Amateur Athletic Union...

 Division I tournaments.


In rugby football
Rugby football
Rugby football is a style of football named after Rugby School in the United Kingdom. It is seen most prominently in two current sports, rugby league and rugby union.-History:...

, the qualification processes for the Rugby Union World Cup and Rugby League World Cup
Rugby League World Cup
The Rugby League World Cup is an international rugby league competition contested by members of the Rugby League International Federation . It has been held nearly once every 4 years on average since its inaugural tournament in France in 1954...

 use a repechage system. The Air New Zealand Cup
Air New Zealand Cup
The ITM Cup is New Zealand's annual professional domestic Rugby union competition, taking place from late July through October . It was founded in 2006 with 14 teams, after the National Provincial Championship was split into two separate competitions. The other 12 provincial teams from the NPC...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

's domestic professional competition in union, used the repechage in 2006
2006 Air New Zealand Cup
The 2006 Air New Zealand Cup is a provincial rugby union competition involving 14 teams from New Zealand. Matches started on Friday 28 July 2006, and the Grand Final was won by Waikato on 21 October 2006....

, but scrapped it for 2007
2007 Air New Zealand Cup
The 2007 Air New Zealand Cup was a provincial rugby union competition involving 14 teams from New Zealand. Matches started on Thursday 26 July 2007, and the Final, in which Auckland defeated Wellington, was held on Saturday 20 October....



It is also used in rowing
Rowing (sport)
Rowing is a sport in which athletes race against each other on rivers, on lakes or on the ocean, depending upon the type of race and the discipline. The boats are propelled by the reaction forces on the oar blades as they are pushed against the water...

. Often only the first one or two boats in a race will qualify automatically for the next round, and all of the other boats must race again in one or more special heats (known as the repechage) to qualify. Because conditions such as wind vary between the heats, often significantly affecting a competitor's time, rowing's repechage system allows the "fastest losers" to qualify independent of the variable conditions in the opening heats.


A repechage heat is also used occasionally in the Cycling
Cycling, also called bicycling or biking, is the use of bicycles for transport, recreation, or for sport. Persons engaged in cycling are cyclists or bicyclists...

 sport of Keirin
is a track cycling event in which racing cyclists sprint for victory. Keirin originated in Japan in 1948; the first Olympic competitions in the sport occurred in 2000....

. These heats give a second chance for non-qualifiers in the initial heat to advance to the next round of competition.


A repechage stage is sometimes used in match racing competition to allow teams finishing the round robin(s) just below the top level teams, a chance to advance to the quarter final stage. This is standard competition for the Olympic classes events, such as the ISAF Sailing World Cup.

Baseball and Softball

At many levels of amateur play, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association
National Collegiate Athletic Association
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States...

, tournaments are established as a full double elimination repechage.

In the current 64-team baseball and softball NCAA tournament formats, there are alternating 4-team double elimination repechage formats, and best two-of-three games series. The first and third rounds are full double elimination repechages, while the second and fourth rounds are best two-of-three game series.

In the Southeastern Conference
Southeastern Conference
The Southeastern Conference is an American college athletic conference that operates in the southeastern part of the United States. It is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama...

, the baseball tournament has a flip-bracket format; the winner of the first championship bracket plays the winner of the second repechage bracket, and the winner of the second championship bracket plays the winner of the first repechage bracket. As usual, the repechage bracket winner must win two matches to advance to the championship game.


Alternatives to repechage include pure single-elimination
Single-elimination tournament
A single-elimination tournament, also called a knockout, cup or sudden death tournament, is a type of elimination tournament where the loser of each match or bracket is immediately eliminated from winning the championship or first prize in the event...

, round-robin
Round-robin tournament
A round-robin tournament is a competition "in which each contestant meets all other contestants in turn".-Terminology:...

, and Swiss-system.
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