SA Rugby’s Carling Champion Match to welcome fans back

The Bulls celebrate after beating the Sharks to win the Currie Cup final at Loftus Versfeld on September 11, 2021 in Pretoria, South Africa
The Bulls celebrate after beating the Sharks to win the Currie Cup final at Loftus Versfeld on September 11, 2021 in Pretoria, South Africa
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

It has been confirmed that the inaugural Carling Champion Match between Team SA and Kenya will be the first senior professional rugby event to host crowds in SA again. 

It will end a drought for rugby fans in the country which began in March 2020.

The clash against Kenya on November 6 at Loftus Versfeld will be rugbys pilot run to welcoming fans back to stadiums. 

A maximum of 2,000 spectators are allowed into rugby venues following the gazetting of new regulations by minister for sports, arts & culture Nathi Mthethwa. 

Like its sister soccer competition the Black Label Cup, the Carling Champion Match gives fans the power to vote for their favourite players from the premier division franchises. 

Carling Black Label brand director Arné Rust said votes were streaming in from fans to name the SA team, with more than 400,000 nominations being received to date.

“The excitement for Black Label is being able to put the power to choose the ultimate Champion Team in the hands of our champion fans, basically making their fantasy team dreams come true. And they have responded,” he said.

Adding to the excitement of the spectacle are sevens fan favourites Kenya, who are set to entertain.

The game against Team SA will show off their growing ambition in the 15s version of the sport. 

The opportunity to play against the best SA domestic rugby has to offer, is one the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) is relishing. 

“We are greatly honoured by the invitation by Saru to participate in the Carling Champions Cup in Pretoria,” KRU chairman Oduor Gangla said.

“This will be an excellent opportunity for the Simbas to play against top-notch professional opponents, even as we prepare for the international matches coming up.

“The experience of such games is truly priceless as we prepare for the Rugby World Cup qualifiers next year.

“We are very grateful to Carling and Saru for granting us this unique invitation and look forward to an exciting start to our international window matches.” 

SA Rugby expressed its gratitude to the East African country for answering the call to join this initiative. 

“We’re delighted that our friends from Kenya have accepted the invitation,” SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said. “It’s great to have a fellow African rugby nation marking the inauguration of an event that we hope to see grow as the calendar settles down and fans return in due course.”

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