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Bristol Bears replace suspended Exiles in Champions Cup

NEWS: The Bristol Bears have been handed a spot in next season’s Champions Cup following the suspension of London Irish.

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On Tuesday, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed that the London Irish will not participate in any league next season after the club failed to prove they have the finances to continue operating.

The Exiles’ suspension from the Premiership and European competitions next season meant that there was a position opened which has now been handed to Bristol Bears, the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) confirmed on Friday

London Irish finished the recent Premiership campaign in fifth place, with Bristol in ninth, one spot below the Champions Cup qualification positions.

EPCR confirmed the news, via an official statement on Friday, which read: “Following the RFU’s decision to suspend London Irish from all competitions, EPCR can clarify that regrettably, the club will not compete in the 2023/24 Champions Cup.

“As Bristol Bears are the highest-ranked club in the Premiership league table at the conclusion of the regular season which did not qualify for the 2023/24 Champions Cup, they will now replace London Irish in next season’s tournament.

“The formats for the 2023/24 Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup will be announced shortly, as will details of the pool draws for both tournaments.”

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The decision means that Saracens, Sale Sharks, Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints, Harlequins, Exeter Chiefs, Bath and Bristol Bears will be the Premiership representatives in the Champions Cup next season.

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