Whereas the hens for the 2022/2023 campaign of the EPCR Challenge Cup are now known, we continue our series by examining the clubs that end up in the competition, with a focus on their key moments in the competition. Cardiff Rugby is at the heart of our roundup.
Cardiff became the first Welsh club to win a European trophy by defeating RC Toulon in the final at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille (28-21). Cardiff reached the knockout stage, having been knocked out of the European Cup. The Welsh scored seven tries to beat Newcastle Falcons in the quarter-final at Kingston Park (55-20) before overtaking Wasps in the semi-final (18-15), after leading 12-8 at half-time. In the final, a try from Sonny Bill Williams allowed the RCT to take the lead at the break (13-6). But Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny and Bradley Davies found their way to the in-but Var in the second half. Toulon lost Jonny Wilkinson to injury, but Thomas Sourice’s late try kept the suspense going until the end.
📣 YOUR POOLS 2022/23 🚨
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) June 28, 2022
Cardiff enjoyed a solid Pool 1 campaign, winning five of their six games to finish second behind London Irish. The Welsh were then eliminated by their Welsh rivals, the Dragons, in a tense quarter-final, despite Josh Navidi’s try at the very end of the match (25-21).
Cardiff finished second to Bath Rugby in Pool 4 after again winning five from six games. In the quarter-finals, Cardiff fell to Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm Stadium (46-26), despite a brace from international winger Alex Cuthbert.
A year later, Cardiff won their second victory in the competition, this time defeating Gloucester Rugby after a spectacular final at the San Mamés stadium in Bilba (31-30). The Welsh had dominated Pool 2, ahead of Stade Toulousain, with a record of five wins in six games. In the quarter-finals they scored an impressive win over Edinburgh Rugby at Murrayfield (20-6) with tries from Ellis Jenkins and Blaine Scully. With the advantage at home at Arms Park, Cardiff got the better of Section Paloise in the semi-finals (16-10), with a precious injury from Jarrod Evans to seal the victory for his team. In the final, Cardiff led Gloucester at half-time (20-6), before the English failed in the game to lead 30-23 with five minutes remaining. But Blaine Scully’s try and Gareth Anscombe’s last-minute defeat sealed the Welsh side’s triumph.