Amid the landmark expansion of EPCR tournaments to include South African sides for the first time, we are looking at players from that country already with EPCR Challenge Cup clubs, and next on the agenda is the quartet at Benetton Rugby.
The hooker, who turned out for South Africa’s U20 side, joined Benetton in 2021, having played for Bulls and Pumas in his homeland.
Els, 28, has featured five times the Challenge Cup, and crossed for a try against USAP in last season’s pool stage.
The lock also came to Benetton in 2021, but it wasn’t his first foray into the European game – he had a stint with Stade Français Paris between 2012 and 2014, appearing five times in the Challenge Cup in his second season as he helped the TOP 14 side to the quarter-finals.
Since joining Benetton from Cheetahs, the 31-year-old has added another Challenge Cup game to his CV, coming off the bench in a 23-9 pool stage with over Dragons.
A whole host of South African stars are descending on #ChallengeCupRugby this season, but in @rhynosmith15, @benettonrugby can already boast one of their own 🇿🇦
It’s not often Louis Rees-Zammit is left behind 💨
Read more ➡️ https://t.co/EMlyhe6pn8#ChallengeCup pic.twitter.com/vV98W8jYqY
— EPCR Challenge Cup (@ChallengeCup_) October 5, 2022
Scrum-half Duvenage, who is also qualified to play for Italy, is another South African enjoying his second spell in European rugby, having played for USAP between 2013 and 2016.
The 34-year-old former Stormers man has played 20 games in EPCR competitions, scoring two tries in the 2020-21 Challenge Cup as Benetton reached the quarter-finals.
Smith, 29, was a regular points-scorer for Benetton in last season’s Challenge Cup, with the utility back kicking five penalties and five conversions in three games, as well as crossing for a try against Gloucester Rugby.
The former South Africa sevens player joined the Italian outfit in 2021 after playing for Leopards, Sharks and Cheetahs.