Written by on April 9, 2024

Written by: Floyd Nkanyane

South African teams made their mark in the Investec Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup knockout rounds, with the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers delivering impressive performances against European heavyweights.


The Bulls secured a quarterfinal berth in the Champions Cup with a dominant 59-19 victory over Lyon. However, their away match against Northampton Saints presents a formidable challenge, as the odds of a South African team reaching the semifinals are considered slim.


On the other hand, the Stormers narrowly lost 21-22 to La Rochelle in a gripping encounter at the DHL Stadium. Despite the heartbreaking defeat, the Cape side’s display against the French giants highlighted the growing competitiveness of South African teams on the European stage.


While the road to Champions Cup glory may still be a few seasons away for local teams due to financial disparities with top European clubs, the Sharks’ 47-3 thumping of Zebre in the Challenge Cup has kept their hopes alive of qualifying for the prestigious Champions Cup next season.


The weekend’s results showcased the depth and resilience of South African rugby, with the Toyota Cheetahs and Emirates Lions putting up valiant efforts despite falling short against Clermont Auvergne and Benetton, respectively.


As the quarterfinals loom, South African rugby fans eagerly anticipate the performances of the Bulls and Sharks, who carry the nation’s hopes of making history in these prestigious European competitions.


4 Key points:


  1. The Bulls secured a quarterfinal spot in the Champions Cup, but their match against Northampton Saints will be played away, which reduces their chances of progressing further.


  1. The Stormers narrowly lost to La Rochelle but put up a strong performance, suggesting that South African teams are closing the gap with European powerhouses.


  1. Winning the Champions Cup may still be a few seasons away for South African teams due to financial disparities with top European clubs.


  1. The Sharks’ victory in the Challenge Cup keeps their hopes alive of qualifying for the Champions Cup next season.


Weekend Investec Champions Cup round of 16 results

Harlequins 28 Glasgow Warriors 24

Vodacom Bulls 59 Lyon 19

Exeter Chiefs 21 Bath 15

DHL Stormers 21 La Rochelle 22

Bordeaux Begles 45 Saracens 12

Leinster 36 Leicester Tigers 22

Northampton Saints 24 Munster 14

Toulouse 31 Racing 92 7


Quarterfinals (home teams first)

Bordeaux Begles v Harlequins (Saturday, 16.00)

Leinster v La Rochelle (Saturday, 18.30)

Northampton Saints v Vodacom Bulls (Saturday, 21.00)

Toulouse v Exeter Chiefs (Sunday, 16.00)


EPCR Challenge Cup round of 16 results

Pau 30 Connacht 40

Hollywoodbets Sharks 47 Zebre 3

Montpellier 17 Ulster 40

Ospreys 23 Sales Sharks 15

Edinburgh 33 Bayonne 15

Benetton 27 Emirates Lions 17

Clermont Auvergne 27 Toyota Cheetahs 22

Gloucester 30 Castres 25


Challenge Cup quarterfinals

Gloucester v Ospreys (Friday, 21.00)

Hollywoodbets Sharks v Edinburgh (Saturday, 13.30)

Clermont Auvergne v Ulster (Saturday, 13.30)

Benetton v Connacht (Sunday, 13.30


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