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'Interesting and fascinating Challenge Cup draw'

REACTION: The Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen predicted some attractive attacking rugby following the Challenge Cup draw.


The Lions have been drawn with Ospreys, Newcastle Falcons, Perignan, Benetton and Montpellier in Pool Two.

The Sharks will fight it out against Pau, Dragons, Zebre, Oyonnax, and an invited team in Pool One, while Pool Three features former winners, Gloucester, Clermont Auvergne, Castres Olympique, Edinburgh and Invitee Two.

Challenge Cup pools 2023-24

“Really interesting and fascinating draw,” Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen said.

The coach revealed the Italian team Benetton will be a big threat, while Ospreys is another team to look out for.

“If you start with the United Rugby Championship teams, Benetton, as we know, are laid with Italian stars that can beat you any day or any time.


“I think post World Cup 2023 they are going to be better off with that experience.

“Ospreys are also full of Welsh stars.

“Newcastle Falcons, known as a traditional tough English team. If you look at their players they have exceptional outside backs with exceptional pace.”

Van Rooyen admitted Montpellier’s South African contingent is another challenge.


The Top 14 side was the tournament winner in 2016 and 2021.

“Montpellier is one of the traditional big Europe sides. Filled with superstars with, rich history and full of South African players with a huge South African influence.

“It will be a great match whether we play them here [Ellis Park] or there [Montpellier, France]. X-factor all over with a mega pack of forwards.

“And it’s the same with Perpignan. The size of their pack is humongous with X-factor in the backline.”

He added: “All of the teams the group wants to play attractive attacking rugby.

“But obviously your kicking game also has to be good.

“Doesn’t matter where you going to play it’s going to be great and there are going to be new stadiums to explore.”

The Lions will be out to better last season’s performance where they fell short in the quarterfinals against Glasgow Warriors.

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