Durban – The Sharks have confirmed that they will play a friendly against English giants Saracens in London on January 15 as relations between the two franchises grow ever closer.
Since the buy-in at the Sharks by the American consortium MVM Holdings, a partnership of sorts with Saracens has been a top priority, with the aim of growing the Sharks in the international market.
The English clubs have their own Premiership that they contest while the Welsh, Irish, Scottish and Italian teams play in the United Rugby Championship along with the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions, so the Sharks will use a travel opportunity in early January — they play Benetton on January 8 — to play Saracens in a friendly fixture.
The Sharks and Saracens have forged strong ties over the years, sharing coaches and a host of top players. With the likes of Billy Vunipola, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and Vincent Koch likely to come up against the Sharks’ Springboks in Ox Nche, Thomas du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi, Siya Kolisi, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, Aphelele Fassi and Sbu Nkosi, the game should be a cracker.
Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee said this match is a great opportunity for the two clubs as well as for the sport.
“To be able to play this fixture in London against a team that has had such a strong South African link over the years is very exciting for us, “ he explained. “I have no doubt that it will be a memorable occasion for everyone involved with some of the best players in the world participating.
“In line with our vision of taking the Sharks brand to the world, this will also provide the team with a wonderful opportunity to interact with our UK fan base and to grow our brand in a very attractive overseas market.”
Saracens’ Director of Rugby Mark McCall added: “We are hugely excited about this match. The Sharks are one of the most iconic teams in the sport so this fixture is brilliant for us.
“I’m sure there will be an amazing atmosphere and with such high-class players all over the pitch, it promises to be a memorable match.”