Cheetahs waiting patiently for next season's European Challenge Cup invitation

Toyota Cheetahs celebrating their 2023 Currie Cup win. Photo: Charle Lombard/BackpagePix

Toyota Cheetahs celebrating their 2023 Currie Cup win. Photo: Charle Lombard/BackpagePix

Published Jun 26, 2023


Cape Town — Cheetahs head coach Hawies Fourie is hopeful his Currie Cup Champions will receive another invitation to participate in next season's European Challenge Cup.

The Cheetahs were crowned South Africa's best domestic rugby team on Saturday beating the Pumas 25-17 in the final in Bloemfontein.

Fourie was chuffed about the win and voiced his team's desire to play in another international competition.

The Cheetahs had a string of bad luck after being booted from the United Rugby Championship (URC) predecessor the Pro16 in 2020 making space for South Africa's four other franchises in ProRugby after being the first local team alongside the Southern Kings to venture into European rugby.

Since they were ejected from Europe, little opportunities to play international clubs have come the way of the Bloemfontein side, but Fourie is hopeful they'll get another chance playing Challenge Cup rugby.

This season they had to be based abroad, playing their 'home' games away from the Free State to accommodate the travel schedule of their opponents.

The Cheetahs managed to reach the playoffs of the Challenge Cup where they were knocked out by Toulon, eventual winners of the tournament.

"I hope we are there again," Fourie said after being asked about participation in the tournament.

"We enjoyed playing in the European Challenge Cup and it meant a lot to the team, to the coaches. We picked up a lot of experience in those conditions

"Our conditioning improved as we focused on the Challenge Cup and our guys became stronger to be able to compete there. I think we stood our ground, qualifying for the round of 16. So hopefully they want us to play in that competition again this coming season."

Fourie added that the Cheetahs will play Super Rugby Pacific side the Western Force in October in home and away matches. It's a clash that will replace the Toyota Challenge that took place in 2022, with the 2023 World Cup in France making it a bit difficult to bring international clubs to South Africa without some of their top players.

For now, a month-long break is on the cards for the Cheetahs before they will start preparing for the new season at the end of July.

"We will play the Western Force two games in Bloem and two in Perth. At the end of August, beginning of September we will play in Bloemfontein. And at the end of September, beginning October we will be playing in Perth.

"We are looking forward to that, it will be great to measure ourselves against a Super Rugby side.

"I don't know when those two invitees (for the Challenge Cup) will be nominated, but we are holding thumbs that one of those will be the Cheetahs, and that we will be competing in the European Challenge Cup in December and January next year."


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