Premiership club handed Champions Cup spot after London Irish suspension

Bristol Bears fly-half AJ MacGinty Credit: Alamy
Bristol Bears fly-half AJ MacGinty Credit: Alamy

Bristol have been handed a boost after it was confirmed they would take London Irish’s place in the 2023/24 Champions Cup following the Exiles’ suspension.

The absence of Irish from the Premiership and European competitions next season meant a position opened up and it has gone to Pat Lam’s Bears side.

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

Bristol get the call-up

However, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) confirmed on Friday that Irish’s absence means Bristol Bears are the next team to take their place.

“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,” read a statement.

“As Bristol Bears are the highest-ranked club in the Gallagher 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.”

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

Filed for administration

Declan Kidney’s London Irish side have filed for administration following their suspension from all club competitions by the Rugby Football Union.

The RFU confirmed on Tuesday that neither Irish’s owner Mick Crossan nor an American consortium planning to buy the club were able to prove they had the finances to compete in the Premiership for the 2023/24 campaign.

And Crossan revealed that entering administration was the only choice left after the suspension ended any chance of a prospective takeover going through.

READ MORE: WATCH: Prepare for swearing and tears as London Irish post emotional video

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