"Gloucester Seek Glory" - EPCR Challenge Cup Semi-Finals: Previews, Kick Off Times & How To Watch - Ruck

“Gloucester Seek Glory” – EPCR Challenge Cup Semi-Finals: Previews, Kick Off Times & How To Watch

The EPCR Challenge Cup rolls on this weekend, with the semi-finals of the tournament set to take stage across Saturday. Just four teams remain in European rugby’s secondary competition, and this quartet of teams have all outlasted the Champions Cup influx which took place in the knockout stages.

Clermont Auvergne, Hollywoods Sharks, Gloucester Rugby and Bennetton Treviso, were all original inhabitants of the Challenge Cup pool stages, in what is an interesting asset of this year’s tournament. The Premiership clubs have had an impressive run throughout the Champions and Challenge Cups this season, with Northampton Saints and Harlequins in the final four of the pinnacle competition.

Final whistle celebrations for Zach Mercer of Gloucester Rugby after beating Leicester Tigers during the Premiership Rugby Cup Final match between Gloucester Rugby and Leicester Tigers at Kingsholm Stadium on March 15th, 2024 in Gloucester, England. Photo by Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Add in Gloucester, and three of the last eight teams left in Europe’s two competitions stem from the top flight of English rugby. France’s Top 14 boasts two (Toulouse & Clermont), whilst the combined country might of the United Rugby Championship contributes the remaining three clubs, each from their own respective homeland (Leinster – Ireland, Sharks – South Africa and Benetton – Italy).

Here is a full run down of this weekend’s EPCR Challenge Cup fixtures, including kick off times and TV broadcast channels.



Twickenham Stoop, 12:30 KO

How to Watch: TNT Sports / France TV / beIN SPORTS / FloRugby / SuperSport

The sole South African side left in either the Champions or Challenge Cup, the Sharks take on Clermont at a neutral venue this weekend. The Twickenham Stoop, home of Premiership Rugby club Harlequins, will host this semi-final fixture for a hotly contested battle.

The Sharks’ journey to the semi-final saw them finish at the top or Pool 1, with their fins breaking through the surface after a trio of wins. The Sharks sunk their teeth into Pau, Oyonnax and the Dragons, yet were bested by Toyota Cheetahs in a second round South African derby. The knockout stages saw the Sharks breeze past Zebre 47-3, before coming out on the winning side of an exhaustive Edinburgh slog fest, that finished 36-30.

The Sharks are amongst rugby’s biggest ‘bridesmaid’ teams, as they have never lifted a piece of major silverware. Four-time Super Rugby runner-ups, the Sharks are eager to lift the Challenge Cup next month. However, Clermont are a well-versed Challenge Cup team, with three previous title triumphs taking place in 1999, 2007 and 2019. A fourth Challenge Cup title would be a record setting triumph for the French side, as Clermont currently share the most wins of the tournament with Harlequins.

Clermont’s ride to the final four saw them finish as Pool 3 runners-up, behind the Cherry and Whites of Gloucester. The french side achieved three wins in the pool, as they got the better of Edinburgh, Scarlets and the new-coming Georgian club Black Lion. Clermont rolled this momentum into the knockout stages, as they felled the Toyota Cheetahs and Ulster on the road to the semi-final. Christophe Urios’ side were a resounding force for Ulster, as their seven-try offensive racked up a landslide 53-14 win.


Kingsholm Stadium, 15:00 KO

How to Watch: TNT Sports / epcrugby.tv / beIN SPORTS / FloRugby / SuperSport

Lewis Ludlow, Captain of Gloucester Rugby celebrates as he lifts the Premiership Rugby Cup during the Premiership Rugby Cup Final match between Gloucester Rugby and Leicester Tigers at Kingsholm Stadium on March 15th, 2024 in Gloucester, England. Photo by Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Premiership Rugby Cup winners Gloucester are eyeing up a unique double for the 2023/24 season, with the Kingsholm trophy cabinet set for a possible further expansion before the end of the campaign. The Cherry and Whites have been a unique story of success this season, despite not enjoying the Premiership campaign that they would have wanted at ninth in the table.

Gloucester take on Benetton Treviso, with the Italian side having an acceptable season at eighth in the United Rugby Championship. Sitting exactly mid-way through the 16-team table, Benetton have been utilising the talents of former Wasps playmaker Jacob Umaga, who’s been leading the line from the 10 jersey.

Benetton have an Azzurri-heavy squad, with a predominant chunk of the Italian national side set to head to Kingsholm. There is a reunion in store for Gloucester’s scrum half Stephen Varney, who was recently running out for Italy in the 2024 Six Nations. Benetton reach the semi-finals after a quarter-final win over Connacht, with Italy’s exciting centre Tommaso Menoncello contributing two tries against the Irish province.

Further scores from Gianmarcho Lucchesi, Rhyno Smith and a brace from Tomas Alboraz, racked up a 39-24 score-line against Connacht’s best efforts. Gloucester eliminated the Ospreys to secure their spot in the last four, with Santiago Carreras’ sharpshooting proving critical in the 23-13 win. The Argentine slotted six penalties on top of hooker Seb Blake’s try, which put significant daylight between Gloucester and their visitors from across the Severn Bridge.