Toulon accept Sharks’ challenge

2014-12-03 00:00

FOLLOWING Sharks CEO John Smit’s challenge to current French Top 14 champs Toulon last week, the two sides are set to face each other early next year in a spicy pre-season friendly.

The Sharks have confirmed that they will travel to France to take on Toulon at the Stade Mayol on February 5.

The match was confirmed after some humorous banter on Twitter in the last couple of days.

John Smit originally challenged Toulon to a friendly, tweeting “Its easier to win Heineken (European) Cup than to contest a @SuperRugby title, @RCTofficiel how do u feel about a game against the SA Conf champs 2014?”

Australian wing Drew Mitchell, who plays for Toulon, sent a quirky comeback tweet: “Thanks but I think we are in talks with the actual winners!! The @NSWWaratahs … Maybe another time.”

Not long after, Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal accepted the challenge.

“I saw what they said about RCT and I find it a little inappropriate,” Boudjellal was quoted in a press conference last week.

“I’ve seen Jaws 1, 2 and 3 and sharks don’t scare me. If they want play against champions, it’s wherever and whenever they want.

“If they think it’s easy to win the double, then why don’t they send their team and we’ll see. Bernard [Laporte] told me it’s not a problem if they want to come and deal the final blow, we’re ready to welcome them.”

The back and forth was in good taste and the Sharks CEO is looking forward to his side testing themselves against one of the top clubs in the world.

“I have huge respect for Toulon and their success in recent years is a clear indication of the brand of rugby they play as well as their work ethic and the pride and passion they have for their club and the game at large,” Smit said.

“It’s always good to play against, learn and share ideas with the best teams around and we are delighted that Toulon has accepted the challenge. We look ­forward to an epic battle on the field of play and a long-term partnership off it.”

The Sharks will then kick off their ­Super Rugby campaign against the Cheetahs on February 14 at King’s Park.

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