What better way to kick off the historic 2022/23 EPCR Challenge Cup than with two past winners as Bristol Bears and Stade Français Paris open the campaign in France on Friday night.

With South African newcomers Emirates Lions and Toyota Cheetahs joining the fray on Saturday, Bristol, who won the 2020 title with some breathtaking running rugby, travel to USAP, while 2017 champions Stade Français host Benetton Rugby.

Both games start at 20:00 (UK and Irish time), when Bristol will be looking to unleash the likes of Fijian flyer Semi Radradra on the Perpignan defence, while Stade Français will be seeking to build on their surprise win over Heineken Champions Cup winners Stade Rochelais in the TOP 14 last weekend.

The Emirates Lions are the first South African side in action at 10:45 on Saturday as they entertain Dragons, who will be hoping to avenge their recent United Rugby Championship loss in Johannesburg. The breakdown promises to be a key area here, with Emmanuel Tshituka possibly up against Welsh international Aaron Wainwright.

The Toyota Cheetahs, who can field EPCR experience in scrum-half Ruan Pienaar and centre François Steyn, then take to the field in Pau at 13:00, when 2000 winners Section Paloise will look to give dead-eyed goalkicker Zack Henry plenty of opportunities to rack up points.

At the same time, there’s the prospect of a thrilling Anglo-Scottish battle between 2008 champions Bath Rugby and Glasgow Warriors at The Recreation Ground, where the visitors are set to parade a host of Scottish internationals, who will be keen to halt the renowned Bath driving maul.

At 17:30 there are two tasty ties as well, with Cardiff Rugby welcoming CA Brive and Connacht Rugby playing host to Newcastle Falcons.

Welsh internationals Dillon Lewis, Taulupe Faletau, Tomos Williams, Rhys Priestland and Josh Adams are poised to return for two-time winners Cardiff, so Brive, bottom of the TOP 14, face a tough task.

Meanwhile, Connacht will again look to points machine Jack Carty to mastermind their campaign, starting against Newcastle, who provide a major threat in Argentinian wing Mateo Carreras.

Finally on Saturday at 20:00, four-time runners-up RC Toulon will begin their latest bid for Challenge Cup glory at Zebre Parma with a star-studded line-up that now includes hugely experienced Wales fly-half Dan Biggar.

Round 1 concludes in Wales on Sunday at 15:15, when Scarlets will be hoping they have an in-form goalkicker for their home game with Aviron Bayonnais, after failing to convert any of their three tries last weekend at Emirates Lions, while the TOP 14 side stunned EPCR Challenge Cup holders Lyon thanks to 14 points from fly-half Camille Lopez.

FloRugby will broadcast every EPCR Challenge Cup match throughout the pool stages, while SuperSport will cover all the South African sides. There is additional coverage of certain games on epcrugby.tv, beINSPORTS, France 3 and S4C.

Click HERE for the full fixture list including all broadcast information.