Antoine Dupont has insisted that the Heineken Champions Cup is a new competition due to the introduction of South African teams.
The Stormers, Bulls and Sharks will play in the Champions Cup for the first time this season, while the Lions and Cheetahs will play in the EPCR Challenge Cup.
Toulouse won’t face any South African teams in the pool stages, as they’ll be taking on Munster and Sale Sharks, although the five-time European champions could come up against the newcomers in the knock out stages.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Antoine Dupont didn’t explicitly express his opposition to the South African teams’ inclusion, although he did say it was hard to understand.
Antoine Dupont the Champions Cup.
“For purists, it’s a bit difficult to grasp. Our whole generation has known the legendary European Cup. It’s a new competition now. It’s no longer the European Cup,” Dupont said.
“We have to approach it like that and try to see the positive by telling ourselves that we will play new teams. But it’s a bit hard to understand.
“We feel that there is an excitement, a particular flavour. Everyone wants to raise their level and the intensity of their game to be able to compete.”
Today, is the day 😍
If you’re not already, this will get you pumped for the #HeinekenChampionsCup to kick off tonight 💪 pic.twitter.com/VEQI5Is34p
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 9, 2022
The action kicks off today.
London Irish’s meeting with Montpellier tonight will kick off the Champions Cup, while the South African sides will be in action for the first time tomorrow.
Harlequins and Lyon will be making trips to South Africa to face the Sharks and Bulls respectively, while the Stormers will be in action in France when they play Clermont Auvergne.
The introduction of the South African sides will certainly increase the amount of travel some teams will have to do, although there’s no doubting that they will provide quality opposition.
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