European Professional Rugby Club | Luatua poised for Bristol century

Flanker Steven Luatua is set to make his 100th appearance for ECPR Challenge Cup side Bristol Bears on Satrday as they travel to Sale Sharks in the Gallagher Premiership.

The All Black, who featured six times in Bristol’s triumphant Challenge Cup campaign in 2020 but missed the final to see the birth of his daughter, captains the team at Salford City Stadium after recovering from a broken nose.

Bristol have made a host of changes following their defeat to Saracens at the start of the month, with lock Chris Vui, No.8 Magnus Bradbury and props Jake Woolmore and Max Lahiff brought into the pack.

Charles Piutau returns at full-back with Luke Morahan shifting to the wing and Piers O’Conor slotting in at outside centre.

Meanwhile, three EPCR Challenge Cup sides – Connacht Rugby, Glasgow Warriors and Benetton Rugby – feature in the United Rugby Championship (URC) on Saturday.

Connacht travel to interprovincial rivals Munster Rugby and hooker Dave Heffernan, prop Finlay Bealham, lock Gavin Thornbury, flanker Cian Prendergast, scrum-half Caolin Blade and center Bundee Aki all start on their return from international duty with Ireland.

Nine Scotland internationals are back for Glasgow as they visit Leinster Rugby – hooker Fraser Brown, prop Murphy Walker, No.8 Jack Dempsey, scrum-half George Horne, wing Rufus McLean and centers Kyle Steyn and Stafford McDowall all start, while Jamie Bhatti and Ross Thompson are on the bench.

Italy wing Matteo Minozzi starts for his Benetton Rugby debut as the Treviso-based side host Edinburgh Rugby, with Englishman Jacob Umaga poised to make his bow for the club from the bench.

Saturday’s TOP 14 games throw up two all-EPCR Challenge Cup affairs, with Stade Français Paris hosting RC Toulon and Section Paloise entertaining CA Brive.

Aviron Bayonnais and USAP are also in action, away at Montpellier Hérault Rugby and at home to Union Bordeaux-Bègles respectively.

Two EPCR Challenge Cup teams go head-to-head on Sunday as Emirates Lions welcome Dragons RFC.

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