We continue our overview of EPCR Challenge Cup Pool B contenders with a look at Llanelli-based Scarlets.

EPCR Challenge Cup record

Scarlets have featured in the Challenge Cup on three occasions, reaching the quarter-finals each time.

They were defeated away to TOP 14 teams in all three of those last eight encounters, losing 38-12 and 11-6 to RC Toulon in 2009-10 and 2019-20 respectively, and going down 15-11 to CA Brive in 2011-12.

Last season

Scarlets endured a difficult campaign in the Heineken Champions Cup, with their first two fixtures disrupted by coronavirus complications before defeats away at Union Bordeaux-Bègles (45-10) and at home to Bristol Bears (52-21).

They finished bottom of Pool B and subsequently failed to reach the knockout stage or qualify for the Challenge Cup.

Head coach

Dwayne Peel was appointed head coach ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, having spent a season as Bristol’s backs and skills coach, and then four years as an assistant at Ulster Rugby.

The former scrum-half featured three times for the British & Irish Lions and earned 76 Wales caps, while his club career consisted of stints at Scarlets, Sale Sharks and Bristol.

Peel featured 56 times in EPCR competitions between 2001 and 2014, scoring 12 tries.

Key players

Scarlets’ squad is littered with Wales internationals, though prop Javan Sebastian and back-row forward Blade Thomson are both capped by Scotland, locks Vaea Fifita and Sam Lousi and No.8 Sione Kalamafoni have represented Tonga, while Tomás Lezana is an experienced Argentinean back-row forward.

Among their leading Welsh forwards are props WillGriff John, Wyn Jones and Samson Lee, hookers Ryan Elias and Ken Owens, and flanker Aaron Shingler.

In the backs, scrum-halves Gareth Davies and Kieran Hardy are also Welsh internationals, along with fly-halves Sam Costelow and Rhys Patchell. Centres Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams are further Welsh stars, as is accomplished full-back Leigh Halfpenny.

Pool fixtures

Scarlets begin their Pool B campaign at home to Aviron Bayonnais on December 11 before facing South African outfit Toyota Cheetahs in Parma on December 17.

They host Toyota Cheetahs in Round 3 on January 13, with a trip to Bayonne wrapping up their pool stage on January 21.