What does the Sharks’ maiden title mean for Champions Cup qualification in the United Rugby Championship?

Dylan Coetzee
Sharks players lift the Challenge Cup trophy in London.

Sharks players lift the Challenge Cup trophy in London.

The Sharks managed to finally get something good going in their season as they claimed the Challenge Cup with a 36-22 win in the final over Gloucester on Friday.

Their victory is historic in two ways as the Durban side not only won their maiden title but also broke the seal to become the first South African side to win a European trophy.

What does the win mean for the Sharks’ Champions Cup qualification?

One of the perks of being Challenge Cup winners is the automatic qualification to next season’s Champions Cup, which is massive for the Sharks as they sit well off the race to the top eight in the United Rugby Championship.

The title offers the Sharks something to work with after really struggling for form in the league. Now John Plumtree’s side can look to kick on and make the most of the lifeline they managed to secure.

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Does it influence Champions Cup qualification in the URC?

The Sharks’ glory is someone else’s downfall as whoever finishes in eighth place will NOT qualify for the Champions Cup next season, making the already tight play-off race that much more exciting.

It is important to note that the top eight in the URC this season remain as the teams heading into the knockouts for the league, with the Sharks’ exploits only influencing qualification for club rugby’s biggest tournament next season.

Biggest losers

The extremely tight play-off race in the URC means that a number of teams will be breathing a bit heavier after the Sharks title.

Connacht, the Lions, Benetton and Edinburgh are all within four points of each other, sitting around eighth in the standings with just one game remaining. Ultimately one of those teams are likely to come up short of Champions Cup qualification come the end of next weekend.

READ MORE: Sharks’ Springboks stars dominate as Durbanites overwhelm Gloucester to claim historic Challenge Cup title