The Vodacom Bulls will begin their second season of rugby amongst Europe’s elite, at home where they will host Londoners, Saracens, in round 1 of the 2023/24 Heineken Champions Cup. The campaign will begin on Saturday, 09 December, ushering in what promises to be a memorable festive season for the herd.
The following weekend – Saturday 16 December – the Vodacom Bulls will travel to Lyon for the second round of the competition, where they will take on the French Top14 side (Lyon) at the Matmut Stadium de Gerland. The competition will then take a break before resuming in the new year with the Tshwane-based outfit travelling to Bristol – on Saturday 13 January of 2024 – where they will face the Premiership club in round three.
Finally, the herd will return to Loftus where they will host French outfit Union Bordeaux-Bègles, in the final round of the pool stages before the competition focuses on the knockout stage.
Back-to-back tournament winners, Stade Rochelais, will clash with last season’s runners-up, Leinster Rugby, in what promises to be another monumental contest between two of the world’s most powerful clubs when Round 1 gets underway in December.
Predictably, the competition involving 24 elite clubs with 40 EPCR titles between them won’t get any less demanding for Stade Rochelais who then travel to Cape Town to face the DHL Stormers in Round 2, before hosting Leicester Tigers in Round 3 and finalising their pool stage schedule against Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium on Sunday 21 January 2024.
Two-time tournament winners and last season’s URC champions, Munster Rugby, will be at Thomond Park for their Round 1 and Round 4 fixtures against newcomers, Aviron Bayonnais, and Northampton Saints respectively, while in Rounds 2 and 3 the Irish province will be on the road to face Exeter Chiefs and the 2023 EPCR Challenge Cup winners, RC Toulon in Pool 3.
Stade Toulousain, who clinched the TOP 14 title in such dramatic fashion last month, open their Pool 2 campaign at Stade Ernest Wallon against Cardiff Rugby on Saturday 9 December, before travelling to Harlequins in Round 2 and then to Ulster Rugby in Round 3. The five-time Champions Cup winners wrap up their pool stage schedule with a home tie against Bath Rugby in Round 4.
Leinster, tournament runners-up in the past two seasons, are at home in Rounds 2 and 3 against Sale Sharks and Stade Francais Paris respectively with either the RDS Arena or the Aviva Stadium to be confirmed as venues in the ultra-competitive Pool 4, and they will hope to book their place in the knockout stage once again when they travel to take on old rivals, Leicester Tigers, at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in Round 4 on Saturday 20 January.
VODACOM BULLS FIXTURES:
R1 – Saturday 9 December 2023
Vodacom Bulls vs Saracens – kick off, 19:30 | Loftus Versfeld, South Africa
R2 – Saturday 16 December 2023
Lyon vs Vodacom Bulls – kick off, 18:30 | Matmut Stadium de Gerland, France
R3 – Saturday 13 January 2024
Bristol Bears vs Vodacom Bulls – kick off, 15:15 | Ashton Gate, England
R4 – Saturday 20 January 2024
Vodacom Bulls vs Union Bordeaux-Bègles – kick off, 15:00 | Loftus Versfeld, South Africa
FULL POOL 1 FIXTURE LIST:
Friday, Dec 8
Connacht Rugby v Union Bordeaux-Bègles – 20:00 – The Sportsground
Saturday, Dec 9
Vodacom Bulls v Saracens – 19:30 – Loftus Versfeld
Bristol Bears v Lyon – 20:00 – Ashton Gate
Saturday, Dec 16
Saracens v Connacht Rugby – 13:00 – StoneX Stadium
Union Bordeaux-Bègles v Bristol Bears – 16:15 – Stade Chaban-Delmas
Lyon v Vodacom Bulls – 18:30 – Matmut Stadium de Gerland
Saturday, Jan 13
Lyon v Connacht Rugby – 14:00 – Matmut Stadium de Gerland
Bristol Bears v Vodacom Bulls – 15:15 – Ashton Gate
Sunday Jan 14
Union Bordeaux-Bègles v Saracens – 18:30 – Stade Chaban-Delmas
Friday, Jan 19
Connacht Rugby v Bristol Bears – 20:00 -The Sportsground
Saturday Jan 20
Vodacom Bulls v Union Bordeaux-Bègles – 15:00 – Loftus Versfeld
Saracens v Lyon – 20:00 – StoneX Stadium