With Bristol Bears travelling to La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-finals on March 31, we take a look at some of their previous meetings in the competition.
1997/98: Bristol Rugby 33 La Rochelle 14
Bristol Rugby enjoyed a comfortable victory over La Rochelle in the opening match of the 1997/98 Challenge Cup in what was only the English side’s second European success. However, after La Rochelle avenged the loss 35-7 at Stade Marcel Deflandre, neither side made it out of Pool 1, as both ended their campaigns with two wins apiece.
2000/01: Bristol Rugby 41 La Rochelle 41
With La Rochelle having beaten Bristol earlier in the season, the two sides were involved in a Challenge Cup classic in the return at the Memorial Ground in Round 6. Bristol led 38-20 with less than 20 minutes remaining, but the French club fought back, scoring three tries to grab a point. Like 1998, though, neither team reached the knockout stages, despite winning three matches each.
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2018/19: Bristol Bears 22 La Rochelle 35
When the two sides met at Ashton Gate earlier this season in Pool 4, it was 2018 Champions Cup quarter-finalists La Rochelle who came out on top. Only four points separated the teams at the interval as Gregory Alldritt and Romain Sazy tries were cancelled out by efforts from Bristol’s Harry Thacker and Jake Heenan. However, the French club took charge after the interval, leaving Bristol with too much to do, although they did rally late on to earn a bonus point.
2018/19: La Rochelle 3 Bristol Bears 13
Bristol inflicted a first Challenge Cup defeat of the season on La Rochelle in Round 4, giving a defensive masterclass at Stade Marcel Deflandre. Bristol’s Callum Sheedy and La Rochelle’s Arthur Retiere exchanged early penalties as the visitors led by three at the interval, and they extended that advantage six minutes into the second half. The crucial try came from Jordan Crane who took advantage of a superb charge-down from Nick Haining. The Bears hung on in the final minutes, despite going down to 14 men, to secure a spot in the last eight.