As part of an historic expansion, Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs have been invited to participate in the 2022/23 EPCR Challenge Cup. Below we take a closer look at the South African club.
Cheetahs play at the 46,000-capacity Toyota Stadium, which is located in Kings Way in central Bloemfontein. Traditionally called The Free State Stadium, it was also previously known as Vodacom Park.
Cheetahs, formed as the Free State Rugby Union in 1895, have won the Currie Cup six times in their history. Five of these successes have come since 2005, including the 2006 title, which they shared with the Bulls. Cheetahs’ most recent victory came in 2019, while they have finished runners-up nine times.
Cheetahs played in the Super Rugby tournament between 2006 and 2017, with their best finish being sixth in 2013.
Hawies Fourie has been head coach since 2019, having been backs coach between 2007 and 2014. In between, he was head coach at fellow South African sides Griquas and Stellenbosch (Maties).
Our lineup for the 2022/23 #ChallengeCupRugby season is OUT 👊
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) June 13, 2022
Cheetahs’ best-known player is Springbok utility back Frans Steyn, who is still going strong at 35. Steyn, renowned for his long-distance goal-kicking and strong tackling, won the World Cup with South Africa in 2007 and 2019, as well as the Challenge Cup with Montpellier Hérault Rugby in 2016. In all, he has made 30 European appearances – nine for Racing 92 prior to 21 for Montpellier – and scored 82 points.
Namibian international hooker Louis van der Westhuizen has been Cheetahs’ standout player this season, scoring 15 tries in 12 Currie Cup matches so far. Flanker Gideon van der Merwe, who has bagged six tries, has also been proving a force to be reckoned with.
Cheetahs’ captain is 38-year-old former Springbok half-back Ruan Pienaar, who has also been appearing for Sharks in the United Rugby Championship. Pienaar is the Currie Cup’s current leading points-scorer so far with 113.
Cheetahs are currently top of the Currie Cup standings with 10 wins from their 12 matches.