EPCR Challenge Cup newcomers Toyota Cheetahs are next on the agenda as we continue our overview of the sides competing in this season’s competition.

EPCR Challenge Cup record

The Bloemfontein-based side will be making their EPCR competitions debut this season and are one of two South African clubs joining the EPCR Challenge Cup in 2022-23.

Last season

Toyota Cheetahs reached the play-offs of the Currie Cup, South Africa’s premier domestic competition, after winning 10 of their 12 games in the domestic season.

They were defeated 38-35 by Pumas in the semi-finals, ending their hopes of winning the competition for a sixth time in 18 years.

Head coach

Hawies Fourie took over in 2019, returning to the club where he served as a backs coach between 2007 and 2013.

Prior to that, he had a five-year spell in charge of Boland Cavaliers, another Currie Cup club, while he also had a brief period on Stormers’ coaching staff.

Fourie, who was head coach at Kimberley-based side Griquas for the 2014-15 season, spent much of his career playing as an amateur in South Africa, though he had a stint playing provincial rugby with Boland in 1994-95.

Key players

Experienced utility back Frans Steyn, a World Cup winner with South Africa in 2007 and 2019, is renowned for his long-distance goal-kicking and will be a familiar name to fans of EPCR competitions, having won the EPCR Challenge Cup with Montpellier Hérault Rugby in 2016.

Namibian international hooker Louis van der Westhuizen was a regular try-scorer in last season’s Currie Cup, as was flanker Gideon van der Merwe.

Wing Rosko Specman is one of the few Toyota Cheetahs players capped by South Africa. Another is veteran scrum-half and captain Ruan Pienaar, who has 281 points in EPCR competitions from spells at Ulster Rugby and Montpellier.

Pool fixtures

Toyota Cheetahs kick off their Pool B campaign with a trip to Section Paloise on December 10, before they host Scarlets in Round 2 a week later.

They travel to Llanelli to face the Welsh region on January 13 and entertain Pau to round off their pool stage fixtures on January 22.

Toyota Cheetahs will play their two home Pool B games at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma, Italy, though their usual home ground is the 45,000-capacity Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein.