An exhilarating rugby bonanza awaits rugby enthusiasts when the Toyota Cheetahs will square up against three international teams and the Windhoek Draught Griquas from 30 September to 21 October in the Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein.
The tournament follows in the wake of the highly successful first tournament in November 2021.
Five teams will participate in the four-match Toyota Challenge. The Toyota Cheetahs will be challenging four teams in once-off matches, of which the winning team will earn R250 000 for every win up to one million Rands.
The Toyota Cheetahs will take on Italy A, Emerging Ireland and USA National A. This is hugely exciting for Bloemfontein.
In the tournament’s last match, the Toyota Cheetahs will get the opportunity to set the record straight against their neighbours, the Windhoek Draught Griquas. The Cheetahs have a lot to prove as they lost 46-18 in their last encounter against Griquas (the Currie Cup match on 28 May 2022 in Kimberley).
The international teams
The Toyota Challenge will form part of the USA Eagles’ preparation for their World Cup qualifier in November in Dubai, in which they will compete against Hong Kong, Kenya and Portugal for a place in the 2023 World Cup tournament in France.
Leading up to the Toyota Challenge matches, the international teams will play in a series of Toyota-friendly matches in South Africa. Italy A will play against the Windhoek Draught Griquas and the Airlink Pumas; Emerging Ireland will face the Windhoek Draught Griquas and Airlink Pumas, and USA National A will take on the Airlink Pumas.
Fans supporting their favourite teams in the Toyota Stadium and on social media will have a lot to look forward to. In addition to the prizes for the winning teams, cash prizes will be up for grabs for individual players and fans during the Toyota Challenge. Players will be rewarded for “positive play actions”, encouraging a bonanza of running rugby, bone-crunching tackles and tries galore.
Leon Theron, Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing Toyota South Africa Motors (Toyota) says: “Toyota has a long history with rugby in South Africa. The Toyota Challenge promises to bring another dimension to the way rugby is being played and mostly enjoyed by the fans in South Africa.”
Ross van Reenen, CEO of the Free State Cheetahs, adds that the Toyota Cheetahs are excited to host three new international opponents. “We are particularly delighted that Toyota has again strengthened its ties with the Toyota Cheetahs by sponsoring this event. The inaugural tournament last year was a huge success and I have no doubt that this year’s Toyota Challenge will be even more successful and exciting. The tournament will also be good preparation for the Toyota Cheetahs’participation in the EPCR Challenge Cup, which kicks off in December.”
Jurie Roux – Chief Executive Officer – SA Rugby, adds: “This is very exciting for all the teams involved, and I’m sure we’ll see some open running rugby in Bloemfontein. We are thankful for Toyota’s involvement in rugby and for creating opportunities for the game to grow in exciting new ways. It’s also great to see new talent from Emerging Ireland and Italy A and the Eagles from the USA where the game is growing, and their involvement will add something extra to this year’s Toyota Challenge.”
David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented, “We are grateful to Toyota and the team at Cheetahs Rugby for creating this opportunity for our Emerging Ireland squad, which will allow us to expose players of national interest not only to a touring environment but also to a high standard of South African opposition. This tournament will provide a significant development opportunity as we look to grow the depth of our national panel ahead of RWC23 and into the future.”
Italy “A” Head Coach Alessandro Troncon said: “Italy’s A aim is developing an international experience for our more interesting prospects among the URC franchises and Peroni TOP10 domestic championship, increasing the top-level playing opportunities. Competing in the Toyota Challenge, facing some of the most exciting and competitive Currie Cup sides, is fully consistent with our team goals and more in general with our high-level development pathway. We will be facing three challenging rugby matches, offering our young guns a chance for testing themselves both physically and technically”.
Gary Gold, Men’s Eagles Head Coach – USA Rugby, said: “ It is an amazing opportunity to bring USA National A side out from the USA to compete in the inaugural Toyota Challenge. This is a wonderful opportunity to bring players who have played MLR rugby in the USA for the first half of the year, and this competition offers them the opportunity to get to play against some of the best provincial teams in SA. This experience will be unique to quite a few of the players who have not spent much time playing rugby outside of the US, let alone be able to play in a country where rugby is so popular. Some of these players will also join the USA National team in November in Dubai, so the experience will stand them in an excellent position of preparation. We are very grateful to have been invited by the Toyota Cheetahs, and hopefully, this can become a regular event and one where we can reciprocate.”
Arni van Rooyen, CEO Griqualand-West Rugby Union, said: “It’s an excellent opportunity to participate in such a prestigious international competition and assist Griquas’ preparations for the 2023 Currie Cup. A word of thanks to Toyota South Africa Motors, the main sponsor of the competition and to the Toyota Cheetahs for inviting Griquas.
It will also allow for the players to test themselves against international opposition.”
SuperSport will broadcast the Toyota Challenge fixtures. All matches will be streamed live by SuperSport, giving supporters abroad the opportunity to be part of the action in Toyota Stadium.
Toyota Challenge fixtures:
Friday, 30 September 2022:
16:15 Toyota Cheetahs vs Italy A (Toyota Challenge match)
13:45 Windhoek Draught Griquas vs Emerging Ireland
Wednesday, 5 October 2022:
17:00 Airlink Pumas vs Emerging Ireland
19:00 Windhoek Draught Griquas vs Italy A
Sunday, 9 October 2022:
13:00 Toyota Cheetahs vs Emerging Ireland (Toyota Challenge Match)
11:00 Airlink Pumas vs Italy A
Friday, 14 October 2022:
18:00 Toyota Cheetahs vs USA National A (Toyota Challenge Match)
Friday, 21 October 2022:
16:15 Toyota Cheetahs vs Windhoek Draught Griquas (Toyota Challenge Match)
13:45 Airlink Pumas vs USA National A