Thursday 14 December 2017

Ulster to host Cheetahs in PRO14 opener

Oupa Mohoje of the Cheetahs during the Super Rugby match between Toyota Cheetahs and Vodacom Bulls at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images)
Oupa Mohoje of the Cheetahs during the Super Rugby match between Toyota Cheetahs and Vodacom Bulls at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images)

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Ulster will host competition newcomers the Cheetahs in their PRO14 opener at the Kingspan Stadium next month.

The Bloemfontein side joined Celtic Rugby last week alongside fellow South African side the Southern Kings after both franchises were axed from next year's Super Rugby tournament.

Celtic Rugby Ltd, the controlling body of the revamped PRO14, have yet to release a full list of fixtures for the upcoming season, however, Ulster Rugby confirmed on Friday that they would be hosting the Cheetahs in their competition opener next month.

A statement from Ulster Rugby read:

"It has been confirmed that Ulster Rugby will host the Toyota Cheetahs in the opening round of the Guinness PRO14 Championship, and tickets are on sale now!

"Following the announcement earlier this week that two South African sides, the Toyota Cheetahs and the Southern Kings, would be joining the PRO14 ahead of the new season, Ulster Rugby can now confirm that Kingspan Stadium will play host to the historic opening day clash versus the Cheetahs on Friday 1st September.

"The momentous occasion will kick-off a new chapter in the revamped Guinness PRO14 as the Championship welcomes Southern Hemisphere teams for the first time, making the competition a truly global tournament.

Commenting on the announcement, Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss said:

"This is a really exciting departure for the competition and we're delighted to be hosting the Cheetahs on the opening day, in what will be fantastic occasion under the lights of Kingspan Stadium.

"South Africa is one of world rugby's great powerhouses with sides renowned for playing fast, open and uncompromising rugby so there is no doubt that both teams will add greatly to the Championship.

"The Cheetahs in particular are famous for their all-out attacking brand of rugby, and we also like to get the ball moving fast so I think it will make for a highly entertaining spectacle.”

Ulster added that the full list of fixtures for rounds 1-13 will be confirmed on Monday, August 7.

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