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Bristol bid to use Investec Champions Cup

Bristol Bears were handed the final spot available to Gallagher Premiership teams despite finishing ninth.

Best performance: Round of 16, 2021 and 2022

Bristol has struggled to go past the pool rounds of EPCR’s elite tournament; their only victories were in 2022 when they lost to Sale Sharks in the aggregate and in 2021 when they lost to Union Bordeaux-Bègles in the Round of 16.

Last season: EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16

The Bears dominated the Challenge Cup pool stages, defeating USAP twice and Zebre Parma twice while only missing a 30-point total once. However, they lost 26-33 to an inspired ASM Clermont Auvergne team at home in the Round of 16 at Ashton Gate.

Key player: Ellis Genge

The Bristolian-born England prop, sometimes known as the “Baby Rhino,” is renowned for his relentless runs forward when he has the ball. Following a stint at Leicester Tigers, the loosehead took the decision to go home in the wake of the pandemic, citing a desire to be nearer to his family and a need to reevaluate his priorities.

Big signing: Virimi Vakatawa

When Bristol revealed in September that it had signed the former France and Racing 92 center, who had been approved by a panel of cardiologists to return to senior rugby, eyebrows flew up throughout Europe. Because of his heart pathology, the Ligue Nationale de Rugby had prohibited him from competition twelve months prior. The back, who was born in New Zealand, was once among the most exciting players in the world, so it will be interesting to see what he can offer following his year off.


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