Black Lion and Toyota Cheetahs to continue competing in Challenge Cup

Black Lion was part of the 2023/24 season of the European Challenge Cup
Black Lion was part of the 2023/24 season of the European Challenge Cup

The European Rugby Champions Cup has confirmed that Black Lion and Toyota Cheetahs will continue to be part of the European Challenge Cup competition for the next two seasons.

The decision follows after approval from the tournament organiser’s Board

Both the clubs have fulfilled EPCR’s participation criteria of having a home venue in Europe with their matches scheduled to be played in Amsterdam.

Both clubs have already made significant contributions to the EPCR Challenge Cup. The Toyota Cheetahs reached the knockout stage in both the 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons.

Last season, Black Lion made history as the first Georgian club to participate in an EPCR tournament. They made an immediate impact with a superb away victory against the Scarlets, while the Toyota Cheetahs’ match against Section Paloise in Amsterdam drew a sell-out crowd at the NRCA Stadium.

Furthermore, the recent appointment of the highly experienced Richard Cockerill to the dual role of Head Coach for both Black Lion and the Georgian national team is expected to make the club even more competitive in future EPCR Challenge Cup tournaments.

"We are absolutely delighted to invite Black Lion to continue their EPCR Challenge Cup journey for the next two seasons," said EPCR Chairman Dominic McKay.

"The inclusion of Black Lion and the continuation of the Toyota Cheetahs’ participation reflect a commitment to widen the scope of our tournaments and to showcase new, exciting talent to fans worldwide.

"The Toyota Cheetahs have already enhanced the EPCR Challenge Cup with their performance last season, and we are confident that the Georgians’ passion and physicality will further raise the intensity of the tournament." 

EPCR will continue collaborating with Rugby Europe and World Rugby on shared strategic objectives. This could potentially lead to the development of a merit-based pathway into the EPCR Challenge Cup or long-term invitations for competitive clubs with ambitious development plans.

In the 2024/25 EPCR Challenge Cup, the 18 clubs will compete in three pools of six. The Pool Draws for the next season are scheduled for Tuesday, July 2, in Cardiff. Full details of the event will be announced soon.