Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Compiled by Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

How three SA teams can qualify for Challenge Cup playoffs

Everything is on the line in the final round of group matches this weekend.

It’s a big weekend and round of matches for the three South African teams playing in the Challenge Cup competition.

With this being the final round of action before the knockout stages are reached, there’s everything to play for this weekend.

Twelve teams in the Challenge Cup, and four “losers” from the top tier Champions Cup will earn their places in the last-16 this weekend, with the three SA sides, the Lions, Sharks and Cheetahs all well positioned.

Here’s what each team needs to do to qualify this coming weekend in each of the three Pools

ALSO READ: How Bulls, Stormers can qualify for knockout rounds of Champions Cup

Pool 1

The Sharks and Cheetahs are both in this pool and both have a good chance of qualifying as they sit first and second in the pool at the moment.

For all their troubles, the Sharks need just one point to qualify and grab a home game in the Round of 16. Their trip to face the Dragons in Wales is a tough one, with the Dragons needing a win to qualify and if the Sharks are victorious it will end the Welsh side’s campaign.

Only Oyannax, who host the Cheetahs, are out of the running right now and while an away game will be tough on the Bloemfontein side, they know they need to get points out of it if they are to ensure qualification as well.

While they sit on nine points, Italian side Zebre Parma are on eight and Section Paloise – or Pau – are on seven points.

Zebre and Pau face off in a straight shootout at Stade du Hameau on Saturday night to see who qualifies. The loser will have to be at the mercy of results from the Cheetahs and Sharks away games to see who makes up the other qualifier.

Pool 2

With Newcastle Falcons and Perpignan experiencing a blowout season and only one log point between them, the top four in Pool 2 have already qualified. That means Montpellier, Benetton, Ospreys and the Lions are all already through to the next round and this weekend’s fixtures will determine who gets a home tie and who has to travel.

Benetton host Montpellier on Saturday and the winner of the match is likely to secure a home fixture in the next round, while a lopsided result could open the door for the Lions, should they record a good win over Ospreys on Sunday.

Either way there will be permutations galore to study for the sides as they head into the final weekend of pool play.

Pool 3

Gloucester, still reeling from the shock defection to the NFL by star Welsh winger Louis Rees-Zammit, have already qualified from the group but face a tough final pool game against Top 14 side Castres Olympique on Friday, with a probably home Round of 16 game for the winners.

Gloucester top the pool on 12 points, with Castres and Clermont Auvergne both on 10 points. Clermont face a tricky trip to Tbilisi on Saturday to face Georgia’s Black Lions, but on current form should pick up a win to qualify and give themselves a chance of a home fixture in the next round.

Black Lion are one point behind fourth placed Edinburgh, coached by former Sharks coach Sean Everitt, and desperately need to win to qualify. But Edinburgh have an easier fixture against Scarlets on Friday night, with the latter already out of qualification and should power home to claim that fourth spot.



Scarlets vs Edinburgh (Pool 3, 10pm)
Gloucester vs Castres Olympique (Pool 3, 10pm)


Black Lions vs Clermont Auvergne (Pool 3, 3pm)
Section Paloise vs Zebre Parma (Pool 1, 3pm)
Oyannax vs Cheetahs (Pool 1, 5.15pm)
Benetton vs Montpellier (Pool 2, 5.15pm)


Perpignan vs Newcastle Falcons (Pool 2, 3pm)
Lions vs Ospreys (Pool 2, 3pm)
Dragons vs Sharks (Pool 1, 7.15pm)

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