Currie Cup

Cheetahs 'optimistic' about joining new European competition

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Team huddle of Toyota Cheetahs during the Super Rugby Unlocked match between the Toyota Cheetahs and Vodacom Bulls on October 16, 2020 at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa  (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images)
Team huddle of Toyota Cheetahs during the Super Rugby Unlocked match between the Toyota Cheetahs and Vodacom Bulls on October 16, 2020 at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images)

The Cheetahs' application to play in the new Intercontinental Shield competition in Europe has been accepted, but they will only know next year if their application is approved.

The Bloemfontein-based franchise has confirmed its interest in joining the event believed to consist of teams from Spain, Germany and Russia.

Afrikaans newspaper Rapport reported over the weekend that the Cheetahs will have to wait until February for confirmation of their participation.

Television and sponsorship deals still need to be negotiated, which will determine whether it will be financially viable for the Cheetahs to play in the tournament.

The Cheetahs released the following statement on the matter: "The Free State Cheetahs have applied to take part in a new competition in Europe.

"The Cheetahs are excited about the prospects of participating in the competition and are optimistic that their application will be accepted.

The details of the competition have yet to be formalised and ratified by the European Rugby Champions Cup."

Playing in the Intercontinental Shield is a big financial carrot for the Cheetahs because it would allow them to qualify for the European Challenge Cup - the continent's second-tier club competition just below the European Champions Cup.

The Intercontinental Shield is believed to kick off in October next year.

The Cheetahs, who have participated in the PRO14 since 2017, recently lost their status in that competition after SA Rugby indicated that the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers would be the country's preferred choices in an expanded PRO16.

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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