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VIDEO: Cheetahs back in the 'waiting room'

The Cheetahs, into their second season as an ‘invited’ team in Europe’s Challenge Cup competition, are back in the waiting room.


Georgia’s Black Lion, along with the Cheetahs, are the teams who received invitations to compete in the European Professional Club Rugby Challenge Cup for the 2023-24 season.

Having reached the play-offs during their first campaign in 2022-23, the Bloemfontein-based franchise started the current season with an impressive 33-15 win over Zebre in Parma last week.

On Sunday they face the Sharks – relegated from the Champions Cup to the Challenge Cup – in a massive South African derby in Bloemfontein on Sunday.

The star-studded Sharks will arrive in the Free State capital with several World Cup Springboks in their matchday squad – players like Lukhanyo Am (who will captain the team), Makazole Mapimpi, Grant Williams, Eben Etzebeth, Ox Nche and Jaden Hendrikse.

It is a match that could go a long way to determine the success of the two SA teams in the Challenge Cup – competed for by 18 teams – this season.

EPCR Chairman Dominic McKay, who along with CEO Jacques Raynaud is attending the Champions Cup Round Two match between the Stormers and Stade Rochelais in Cape Town, said the future of the Cheetahs in Europe is one of the ‘conversations’ they are having.


“They [the SA teams] have been fantastic additions to the competitions,” he said of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments.

“We are pleased with how they have embraced it,” he added to a @rugby365com question about the Cheetahs’ future in Europe.

The EPCR boss said they have a lot of ‘demands’ from different parts of Europe to be part of the two mainline competitions.

(WATCH as @king365ed chats with EPCR Chairman Dominic McKay about the future of the Cheetahs in Europe…)

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This might mean they could welcome some other teams from ‘broader Europe’ in the next addition.


“In the first quarter of 2024 we will look at our plans, strategically, to ensure we have the right blend of teams from the right geographical regions,” McKay said of their plans for the future.

He added that they were “genuinely surprised” by the quality of the bids to partake in the 2023-24 season.

“It was wonderful to welcome the Cheetahs back, but also a team from Georgia,” he told @rugby365com.

“That demonstrates that the size and the scale of our ambition is matched by the teams and countries that want to be part of it.”

He admitted that the Cheetahs have added great “excitement and value” to the Challenge Cup already.

“We are very proud that they have been part of it,” McKay added.

EPCR CEO Jacques Raynaud said the inclusion of the South African teams has ‘freshened up’ the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competitions.

However, for now, those ‘conversations’ will take place behind closed doors and the Cheetahs will have to make a statement about their desires and merits by reaching the play-offs in back-to-back seasons.

Then they will have to wait for the outcome of the boardroom meetings.



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