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EPCR Chairman expects SA teams to be allowed in Champions Cup and Challenge Cup

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With South African teams soon joining the expanded Guinness PRO16, EPCR chairman Simon Haliday expects South African franchises to be allowed to qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.

They are waiting for the three main European Leagues and six unions to sign off on a new participation agreement in 2022.

The current agreement came into existence in 2014 when the EPCR was set-up to replace the old ERC body that ran European tournaments.

When the Cheetahs and Kings joined the PRO14 they were not allowed to to take part in the Champions Cup but that looks like it will change with the new agreement.

With the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions having left Super Rugby, Halliday believes the South African franchises will become part of a revised Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competition.

According to Halliday they are debating what the future will look like and there are backing for the inclusion of the South African teams.

“Obviously, we [EPCR] only take from the leagues the teams that they present so that is the answer on South Africa. We know South Africa have an intention to become part of the PRO16 and we’re fully expecting if that happens for that to come our way. We’d be pretty naive if we didn’t think that.

“When you think about that sort of development, plus frankly the growing strength of all the clubs around all the leagues, it’s only going to get bigger and better. We are duty-bound to drive an agreement that fully realises that.

“At the same time, you respect the fact that these are the top players in the world we are talking about so you need to create a tournament that will fit within the whole calendar and that is where the three leagues have also done a lot of work. 

“So I am pretty confident that we are only a short time away from being able to deliver some really good news. Rugby needs some good news so I’m hopeful for that – but it’s never done until it is signed so we’re still working very hard on it.”

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