Toulon will take on Super Rugby franchise the Sharks in a friendly in February, the French club revealed on Sunday.
European champions Toulon will take on Super Rugby franchise the Sharks in a friendly in February, the French club revealed on Sunday.
The idea of a friendly between the two sides was mooted earlier in the week when Sharks manager John Smit, South Africa’s 2007 World Cup winning captain, threw down the gauntlet and tweeted a direct challenge to Toulon.
He said Tuesday: “Its easier to win Heineken (European) Cup than to contest a @SuperRugby title, @RCTofficiel how do u feel about a game against the SA Conf champs 2014?”
That prompted Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal to quip in a press conference later that day: “I’ve seen Jaws I, II and III and sharks don’t scare me!”
But on Sunday, Toulon’s official Twitter account posted the message: “Toulon accept John Smit’s challenge and will face the Sharks on February 5, 2015 at Mayol.”
The match will take place in Toulon on the same weekend as the first round of Six Nations matches, meaning the French champions will be badly depleted by international call-ups.
But Super Rugby semi-finalists the Sharks will still be in their pre-season as the 2015 Super Rugby competition – pitting teams from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia against each other – starts a week later.
According to organisers SL Events, talks had been ongoing before Smit’s tweet about a possible match.
It will pit current Toulon fly-half Frederic Michalak against the team where he twice spent a year, in 2008 and 2011.
Boudjellal claimed on Tuesday that when he told manager Bernard Laporte about the challenge, the former France coach responded: “If they want to play the champions, it’s where they want, when they want!”