SA teams to play in Europe if they earn 'home' Champions Cup semis

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The Sharks have reached the Champions Cup knockouts. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
The Sharks have reached the Champions Cup knockouts. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

South African franchises will have to 'host' any potential Champions Cup semi-finals in Europe and not in South Africa, competition organiser EPCR told AFP on Monday.

In what was previously rugby union's European continental club championship, three South African franchises - the Bulls of Pretoria, the Sharks of Durban and the Stormers of Cape Town - qualified this year for the first time.

The Champions Cup semi-finals will take place "in Europe", said an EPCR spokesperson, confirming reports on Irish website The42.ie.

"This is an agreement with SARU (the South African rugby federation)," the spokesperson said.

The Bulls, Stormers and Sharks, however, will be able to stage games in South Africa in the last 16 and quarter-finals.

"If the South African teams qualify for the semi-finals, the matches will take place in Europe," said another source close to the matter.

The only rider to that is if two of them qualify to meet in the same semi in which case the match can be played in South Africa.

Currently, ahead of the fourth and final day of the group stage, the Sharks have already qualified while the Bulls and the Stormers are also both on track to reach the knockout stages.

The semi-finals are scheduled for the end of April before the final in Dublin on 20 May.

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