Clubs from South Africa are to compete in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup, the finals for which will be held in Dublin.

Europe’s three main professional leagues the United Rugby Championship, English Premiership and French National League have expressed their approval of the historic expansion of EPCR’s tournaments.

The Cape Town-based DHL Stormers, the Vodacom Bulls from Pretoria and the Durban-based Cell C Sharks will compete in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup, while the Emirates Lions from Johannesburg will fly the flag for South Africa in the EPCR Challenge Cup.

In addition to the four qualifiers from the United Rugby Championship, the Bloemfontein-based Toyota Cheetahs have been invited to participate in the 2022/23 EPCR Challenge Cup.

“The entry of the South African clubs to the URC has revitalised our league, created new rivalries and driven up the levels of competition,” said United Rugby Championship Chief Executive and EPCR Board member, Martin Anayi.

“It is mouthwatering to see the DHL Stormers, Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks all involved in our Play-Offs and their presence is making a major impact on broadcast audiences and fan engagement.”

“Adding the opportunity for these clubs, as well as for the Toyota Cheetahs, to compete in EPCR’s competitions will only strengthen what are two of the world’s elite club rugby competitions.”

The South African clubs in the Heineken Champions Cup will be in the mix against newly-crowned winners, Stade Rochelais, who lifted the trophy for the first time in dramatic style in Marseille last weekend, as well as Lyon who also claimed a historic first European title when they won the EPCR Challenge Cup final.

EPCR welcomed over 110,000 fans to the Stade Vélodrome over the course of the two finals with a record EPCR Challenge Cup attendance of 51,431 witnessing Lyon’s victory over RC Toulon, and 59,682 going through the turnstiles for last Saturday’s showpiece match between Stade Rochelais and Leinster.

The formats for next season’s Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup will be announced shortly, in conjunction with details of the Pool Draws for both tournaments which will be staged towards the end of this month.

During the 2022/23 season, EPCR will continue to be supported by Heineken as the title partner of the Heineken Champions Cup, as well as by EPCR’s Official Logistics Partner DHL and Official Hotels Partner IHG Hotels & Resorts amongst others, with future exciting partner announcements expected in the near future.

 

 

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