Lions and cheetahs get huge European boost
The Lions and Cheetahs received a huge boost on Thursday when it was confirmed that they will both be taking part in the European Rugby Challenge Cup next season.
European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) organizes two knockout competitions each year featuring teams from France, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy, South Africa South now included.
It was an open secret that the Stormers, Bulls and Sharks would be included in EPCR’s flagship competition, the European Rugby Champions Cup, which was won by La Rochelle last weekend.
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But there were question marks over whether the Lions would be included in EPCR’s second division competition, the Challenge Cup which was won by Lyon last weekend, but that has now been confirmed with the added bonus that the Cheetahs will also be involved.
The Cheetahs are the main surprise of the competition, as the teams playing there belong to the various top leagues, namely the United Rugby Championship, the English Premiership and the French Top 14.
However, an allowance has been made for them to be included which will be a huge relief for the union who have been desperately trying to find an elite international club competition to compete in.
“We are very grateful to SA Rugby and all other stakeholders for giving us the opportunity to play in an international competition again. We know it has been hard work and we look forward to taking part in the EPCR. Challenge Cup next season,” said Cheetahs CEO Ross van Reenen.
“I especially want to express my sincere thanks and gratitude for the incredible hard work that Mr. Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU and Mr. Mark Alexander, President of SARU, have put in behind the scenes to realize this dream of participating in the ‘EPCR The Challenge Cup has become a reality for the Free State Cheetahs.