Lions motivated for European challenge

The Lions are fired up for their European challenge after it was confirmed on Thursday that they and the Cheetahs will take part in the European Professional Club Rugby (EPRC) Challenge Cup next season.

It’s a big boost for the union, after finishing in 11e place on the United Rugby Championship (URC) newspaper and were unable to qualify for the showpiece Champions Cup competition in which the Stormers, Bulls and Sharks will all take part.

However, they now have confirmation that they will take part in the second division tournament, which is just as important as the showpiece tournament, as shown by the number of international players who took part in last weekend’s final with Lyon beating Toulon. for the title.

“I think it’s huge for South African rugby. We at the Lions are also delighted because there are all these English and French clubs that we are going to play against, which makes it more attractive for the supporters, the players and the business side of things,” Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli said.

“After Super Rugby we wanted to stay in an international inter-provincial competition and it is so much bigger. You saw the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals, it was so much bigger.

“There are so many eyeballs on it, so for a player it makes sense to join a team that competes in these competitions and then commercial sponsors get a lot more for their money.”

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The Lions now face the daunting task of building depth in their squad, with the possibility of having to compete on three fronts at the same time next season, with the URC, Challenge Cup and Currie Cup.

“I think it’s a great challenge. I don’t want to talk about the structure of the Currie Cup in advance, but obviously it will be difficult to play three competitions at the same time, so we will have to see where we can fit in, ”said Straeuli.

“Also, with the World Cup coming up next year, those competitions might have to end even earlier, so we’ll have to see how that plays out.

“Hopefully from next season we can get a rhythm back. Because with Covid we haven’t been able to get a working system so hopefully now we can start to switch to a two- or three-year cycle.

Return in euros

The Cheetahs were also absolutely delighted to return to European rugby, finally finding themselves at home after being left behind for the past few years.

“This is great news for us. It’s taken some time and we can’t wait to play in this competition,” Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie said.

“Last year we would have played too, but that was canceled in September, so it was a big disappointment. But we are really looking forward to playing in the competition against the best teams in Europe.

Charles P. Patton