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European Cups are open to… franchises from South Africa

For several months, rumors about the expansion of the Six Nations Tournament returned uninterruptedly. With the idea of ​​South Africa participating in the annual meeting of European rugby, after the 2023 World Cup. This option, at the moment, is not appropriate according to tournament officials. But this will not prevent South African rugby from entering Europe: six teams from the country will compete in European club competitions next season.

This is how the European Rugby Cup organizers announced on Thursday 2 June that Cape Stormers, Pretoria Bulls and Durban Sharks will take part in the Champions Cup (which La Rochelle won on Saturday 28 May), while the Johannesburg Lions and Bloemfontein will advance in the Panthers’ European challenge (won by La Rochelle). Lyon this season.

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The top three have already played the United Rugby League (URC) since last season with the Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian counties. Storm (2e from URC), bulls (4e) and sharks (5 .)eSo they qualified for that title, along with the Irish for Leinster, Munster and Ulster, the Scots of Edinburgh, and the Wales of the Ospreys. Black finished 12e from URC and will compete in the challenge.

“Providing strong commercial returns for our tournaments”

These arrivals “It will bring a really exciting touch of Southern Hemisphere rugby to our tournaments, world-class players and new supporters”And the Confirms to the President of the European Professional Rugby Union (EPCR – European Association of Professional Rugby), Dominic Mackay.

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“This is a critical step in achieving our vision to develop our rugby league and tournament, continue to generate strong commercial revenue for our tournaments and create an even higher level of exciting matches for our fans.”the head of the organizing body added.

EPCR General Manager Anthony Lepage is pleased to welcome you “Famous and Followed South African Franchises” in European Cups. thought this “It will allow these competitions to reach a new level in the rugby elite, with the best South African players now able to compete against the best French and English players.”.

“We are very excited to raise the bar even higher next season, with matches featuring World Cup winners South Africa, as well as European stars already rocking the pitches.”he added.

‘No longer the European Cup’

EPCR for advertising “almost” Next season’s formats, along with details of the pool draws for both tournaments, scheduled for the end of the month.

“Our five franchises will now play in two new territories against opponents we have never faced before. We have already tested the intensity of the URC and now we will be facing the best clubs in England and France.The Director-General of the South African Union, Jorie Rowe.

This enthusiasm is not necessarily shared by everyone. This is how the president of La Rochelle, Vincent Merling, condemns the recent European champion “Loss of Identity”. “Let’s be clear, I’m not at all, with South Africa in the European Championship. Now that South Africa is in the Champions Cup, it’s not the European Cup anymore. It’s a positive response we give to the Celtic rugby team that so desperately wished, but I don’t understand the president of Stade Rochelais”Thus confirmed on the eve of the announcement.

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Clement Poitrino, Toulouse Stade defense coach, also thought at the beginning of May that this merger ‘distorts the competition’.

On the other hand, Bordeaux president, Laurent Marti Southwest That these privileges “It will bring new life: we will face the rugby player who is still the world champion, one of the strongest players on the planet! We will be able to organize trips and partner operations that will be even stronger.”

The world with AFP