European Professional Club Rugby | Lions set to embrace Challenge Cup ‘culture’

The South African team Lions are ready to jump into the EPCR Challenge Cup after learning their opponents for the group stage.

The United Rugby Championship (URC) side will face Stade Français Paris and the Worcester Warriors in Pool B when the competition begins in December.

Head coach Ivan van Rooyen says everyone associated with the club is eager to get started after being added to the tournament as part of a historic expansion for 2022/23 and beyond.

“We are really excited to be part of the EPCR Challenge Cup,” he told the Citizen. “It’s a great opportunity, not only for the players, coaches and management, but also for the fans, to really immerse themselves in European rugby culture.

“We have seen the excitement and the energy in the URC, and the addition of the French and English teams will only increase that.

“So we’re really looking forward to the challenge of playing in Europe, in new stadiums with a different style of rugby and different coaching styles.”

There are several South African links to the two Lions opponents – something van Rooyen was keen to point out.

“We play at Stade Français at home and away in Paris. We know their rich history. They also have a few South Africans in their squad. [Lions] Coach Ricardo [Loubscher] coached there, so it’s great,” he said.

“They are one of the original powerhouses of French rugby and the Worcester Warriors [are] a team with a lot of character and a tough team. Duhan van der Merwe is there and François Venter is captain, so we’ll play a bit of South African flavor again.

Charles P. Patton