European Professional Club Rugby | Lions host Bulls in URC opener

Ahead of their first season in the EPCR Challenge Cup, the South African Lions host the Bulls in the opening round of the United Rugby Championship.

The Lions, who make their EPCR competitive debut with a trip to Worcester Warriors on the weekend of December 9-11, debut summer signing Marius Louw, with Springbok international Andries Coetzee returning to the Benetton club Rugby.

Cardiff Rugby, who host CA Brive when the EPCR Challenge Cup kicks off later this year, host Munster Rugby. Director of Rugby Dai Young looks after new signings Liam Williams and Taulupe Faletau.

Meanwhile, Connacht Rugby, who host Newcastle Falcons in the first round of EPCR action, travel to Ulster Rugby this weekend. Five uncapped players could make their first appearances for the club, with Peter Dooley, Josh Murphy, Byron Ralston named in XV and Shamus Hurley-Langton and David Hawkshaw named among the substitutes.

Center Jonathan Davies will lead the Scarlets when they host the Ospreys at Parc y Scarlets. Davies is entering his 14th season with the Welsh region. The Scarlets host Aviron Bayonnais in the opening round of the EPCR Challenge Cup in December.

The other Welsh region Dragons travel to DAM Health Stadium to take on Edinburgh rugby and name five summer signings in the XV; Bradley Roberts, Sean Lonsdale, JJ Hanrahan, Sio Tomkinson and Angus O’Brien.

Elsewhere, Zebre Parma, who have a draw at home to RC Toulon to kick off their EPCR campaign, host Leinster Rugby.

In the Gallagher Premiership, EPCR Challenge Cup contenders go head-to-head as Wasps take on Bristol Bears.

Wasps, who start their Pool B campaign against the Dragons, recall Jack Willis to the starting XV of the side which lost 21-27 to Gloucester Rugby last weekend.

Bristol, meanwhile, name Luke Morahan in the starting XV, the winger is set to make his 100th appearance for the club – becoming the 47th player to reach the milestone and the first Australian.

Newcastle travel to Leicester Tigers hoping to build on an impressive attacking display in their 31-40 loss to Harlequins. Director of Rugby Dean Richards makes two changes, George Wacokecoke and Carl Fearns inserts into the XV.

Meanwhile Bath Rugby, Glasgow Warriors’ opponents in their EPCR opener, welcome Sale Sharks and make five changes to the starting XV; Wesley White, Lewis Boyce, Joe Cokanasiga, Jonathan Joseph and Will Muir the incoming quintet.

On Sunday, Worcester Warriors host Champions Cup opponents Heineken at Exeter Chiefs.

In the TOP 14, Stade Français Paris welcomes Bayonne in a 100% EPCR Challenge Cup duel, Brive welcomes Montpellier Hérault Rugby, USAP moves to Stade Rochelais and Section Paloise welcomes Stade Toulousain. On Sunday, RC Toulon receives ASM Clermont Auvergne.

Charles P. Patton