SA sides won't host Champions Cup semi-finals - even if they earn the right

SA sides won't host Champions Cup semi-finals - even if they earn the right

Bulls boss Jake White has reminded fans that South African Champions Cup teams will not host a semi-final in this season's competition, regardless of how they fare in the pool stages.

The Stormers and Bulls look set to progress to the last 16 of the tournament, but if they are to reach the final four, they will not be allowed to host a semi-final regardless of the seeding.

White confirmed as much following the Bulls' 31-17 victory over Bristol Bears on Saturday, as he revealed that Ashton Gate, the site of their victory over Bristol Bears on Saturday, will be their "home ground" if they earn the right.

"I'm not sure if you guys are aware, but the South African sides can't host a semi-final," White told reporters.

"So we chose Ashton Gate as our home ground, so it's quite ironic that we win here and if we win at Loftus (against Bordeaux), and we win the next two home games at Loftus (last 16 and quarter-final), the next game would be back at Ashton Gate, who knows maybe the stars are aligned."

When asked for clarity as to why the South African sides are not able to host a semi-final match, White said it involved technicalities behind the scenes.

"We are not shareholders of the EPCR yet, and we are not shareholders of the URC; that still takes some time, but as non-shareholders, the semi-finals have got to be based in Europe, I think," he said.

Despite the challenges that the South African sides face with playing in the URC and EPCR competitions, White said that he still prefers the European competitions over Super Rugby.

"I have been around for a long time, so I was with Super Rugby as well, and I probably prefer this (URC and Champions Cup)," he said.

"It's different to Super Rugby, and I say this with respect to the competition because I was part of it from the right in the beginning when I was with the Lions - Transvaal in those days - in 1996 went like Super eight and Super 10 and 12, and to be fair I think once it got to conferences and you didn't play each other, it lost a lot of the spark.

"So this is new; we get a chance to play in the Champions Cup, and to me, it is the best club tournament in the world.

"It's like football; if your club doesn't get into the Champions League, players are going to want to leave, and I think rugby is going to become the same."

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