Our fact file of Pool B of the Heineken Champions Cup continues with a look at Bristol Bears, last season’s European Rugby Challenge Cup winners.
European Cup record
This will be only Bristol’s third season in Europe’s elite club competition. They last competed in 2007/08, when they finished third in Pool 3. Their maiden Heineken Cup campaign was 2002/03, when they were runners-up in Pool 4 as Bristol Shoguns.
The Bears captured their first European trophy by winning the Challenge Cup, beating RC Toulon 32-19 in the final at Stade Maurice-David in Aix-en-Provence – one of eight victories from nine matches. The only game they didn’t win was the Round 6 7-7 draw at Zebre Rugby Club.
Director of rugby
Pat Lam – After an illustrious playing career, which brought him 34 caps for Samoa as well as Heineken Cup glory with Northampton Saints in 2000, he has switched seamlessly to coaching, guiding Connacht to their first major honour in 2012 in the Pro12, before taking charge at Bristol in 2017.
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Bristol have made some major signings in the last few years in New Zealand full-back Charles Piutau, Fiji centre Semi Radradra, England prop Kyle Sinckler, lock Dave Attwood and No.8 Nathan Hughes. England back-row forward Ben Earl has also joined on loan from Saracens.
Bristol have been drawn against ASM Clermont Auvergne and Connacht Rugby. They have never played Connacht before in European competition, but met Clermont twice under their old name of Montferrand in 2002/03, completing the double over the French club.