We continue our in-depth look at the teams in Pool A of the EPCR Challenge Cup with a profile of 2020 champions Bristol Bears.

EPCR Challenge Cup record

The last time Bristol took part in the competition, in 2019-20, they won it, lifting their first EPCR trophy by beating RC Toulon 32-19 in the final. Their previous best campaign was 1999-2000, when they reached the semi-finals, only to succumb 51-27 away to Section Paloise.

Last season

The Bears were in the Heineken Champions Cup last season and bowed out in the Round of 16 to Gallagher Premiership rivals Sale Sharks, who triumphed 44-39 on aggregate after Bristol had won the first leg 10-9 at Sale.

Director of rugby

Pat Lam joined Bristol as head coach in 2017 from Connacht Rugby, after he had guided the Irish province to their first major trophy in the 2016 Pro12 final.

In his first season at Ashton Gate, the former Auckland Blues head coach led Bristol to an immediate return to the top-flight with 21 wins out of 22, before steering them to a highest finish for a promoted club in 12 years.

The 53-year-old Samoan was rewarded with promotion to director of rugby in 2019 and the following year piloted the Bears to their first major silverware since 1983 with that Challenge Cup success.

Key players

The Bristol squad boasts internationals from New Zealand, England, Australia, Wales, Scotland, the USA, Fiji and Samoa. The best known are probably England props Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler, Fiji centre Semi Radradra, Scotland No.8 Magnus Bradbury, Wales fly-half Callum Sheedy and ex-All Blacks full-back Charles Piutau and flanker Steve Luatua.

Pool fixtures

Bristol start their Pool A campaign with a trip to USAP in December. Back-to-back ties against Zebre Parma follow, before the Bears end their pool matches by hosting the Perpignan club in January.