"Landmark expansion" - South Africa join 'European' tournament - Ruck

“Landmark expansion” – South Africa join ‘European’ tournament

In a landmark expansion of its tournaments, EPCR is delighted to confirm that the five leading clubs from South Africa will compete in the Heineken Champions Cup and the EPCR Challenge Cup from the 2022/23 season and beyond.

The Stormers, Bulls, Sharks and Lions, who have qualified from the United Rugby Championship (URC), will add a new layer of high-quality competition to the established order of Europe’s elite clubs.

In a further development, and in addition to the four qualifiers from the URC, the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs have been invited to participate in the 2022/23 EPCR Challenge Cup.

As well as Leinster Rugby, Ulster Rugby, Munster Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby and the Ospreys, the Cape Town-based Stormers, the Bulls from Pretoria and the Durban-based Sharks will compete in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup following impressive campaigns in the URC, while the Lions from Johannesburg and the Cheetahs will fly the flag for South Africa in the EPCR Challenge Cup.

Commenting on the major development, EPCR Chairman Dominic McKay said: “We are delighted to confirm that the South African clubs will be part of our expanded tournaments from the beginning of next season.

“The Stormers, Bulls, Sharks and Lions will all bring hugely exciting southern hemisphere rugby, well-known world-class players and broad new audiences into our tournaments, and we are pleased to welcome the Cheetahs into the EPCR Challenge Cup. The steps we have taken with our stakeholder leagues and with SARU ensure that we can further develop the tournaments as the pinnacle of global club rugby.

“This is a crucial step forward in bringing to life our vision of growing the game and our own tournaments, continuing to deliver strong returns for our leagues and creating an ever-higher standard of mouthwatering matches for our fans.”