Perpignan return to the European Rugby Challenge Cup this season after four years away following their promotion from PRO D2 into the TOP 14. We take a look an in-depth look at how they are shaping up ahead of next season’s European campaign.

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What is their European record like?

Perpignan’s stand out European campaign was back in 2003, when they reached the final of the European Cup after coming through tense away knock-out victories over Scarlets (26-19) and Leinster Rugby (21-14).

They returned to the scene of their semi-final victory in Dublin (Landsdowne Road) for the showpiece final against Toulouse, but were beaten by their French counterparts 22-17. Fly-half Yann Delaigue kicked 17 points for Toulouse, who would go on to win Europe’s elite club competition again in 2005.

Since then, Perpignan have struggled to reach a European Cup semi-final, with their sole appearance in the final four coming in 2011, when they were beat 23-7 by Northampton Saints at Stadium:mk.

They did reach the Challenge Cup semi-final in 2013, before being narrowly beaten 25-22 by Stade Français Paris.

Who is on the coaching staff?

The French side are headed by Sporting Director Christian Lanta as well as coaches Patrick Arlettaz and Perry Freshwater.

Lanta was previously a wing for the likes of Toulouse, before moving into coaching at the likes of Racing 92, Agen, Lyon and most recently Aviron Bayonnais.

44-year-old Perry Freshwater will need no introduction to Leicester Tigers and England fans, having played for club and country between 1995 and 2012.

The prop moved to Perpignan in 2003 after eight years at Welford Road, and after retiring in 2012 he moved into the coaching staff at Stade Aime Giral where he remains a key part of the team.

Former France international Patrick Arlettaz makes up the third part of the Perpignan coaching staff, after spells at Montpellier and Narbonne.

Who are their new signings?

Perpignan have made a number of key additions as they look for success in the Top 14 as well as the Challenge Cup next season.

One of them is former Castres Olympique and Brumbies utility-back Afusipa Taumoepeau, who has spent the last two seasons with the Top 14 champions.

He has plenty of experience in the Champions Cup, having clashed with eventual semi-finalists Munster Rugby and finalists Racing 92 last season in what turned out to be a devilish Pool 4.

Other signings include Fiji sevens flyer Eroni Sau, Super Rugby utility-back Wandile Mjekevu and former Castres prop Eric Sione.

Who are their other top players?

A name familiar to European rugby fans in the UK will be former Saracens and Exeter Chiefs lock Alex Brown.

The 28-year-old spent four seasons with the Sandy Park side, playing 14 times in European Rugby. He also made a sole appearance in 2009 for Saracens in the Challenge Cup.

One notable former player is All-Black legend and Champions Cup runner-up Dan Carter.

He spent time with Perpignan in 2008 and 2009, helping them win the TOP 14 despite rupturing his Achilles tendon in the January of that season.