The Guys Worked Extremely Hard To Get The Result, Especially With The Red Card,” – Ivan Van Rooyen


Emirates Lions head coach Ivan van Rooyen was left delighted after his team saw off Racing 92 to go deeper into the EPCR Challenge Cup in their debut campaign in the competition.

The Johannesburg-based side is the only South African side to reach the quarter-finals after Toyota Cheetahs’ defeat at RC Toulon, and they passed their toughest assignment yet in the form of French heavyweights Racing in the Round of 16.

Emirates Lions ran in seven tries at Emirates Airline Park – through Marius Louw (2), Edwill van der Merwe, Sanele Nohamba, Rabz Maxwane, Ruan Venter and Gianni Lombard – and triumphed 51-28 despite Emmanuel Tshituka’s early red card.

“I am immensely proud. The guys worked extremely hard to get the result, especially with the red card,” Van Rooyen said.

“Racing is a great team, full of Test stars, so we knew we really had to be good.

“If you allow them to run on you, they can cause damage because they have X-factor all over the show, so it was important for us to be good defensively.

“Every time they scored we managed to get back on the board and kept the deficit relatively big.

“At one stage we thought there was a little bit of slip. I think sometimes with a red card it is easy to get very defensive-minded.

“However, we continued attacking and we were very good.”

With victory teeing up a quarter-final trip Glasgow Warriors on Saturday, Van Rooyen assured that his strongest available squad will be making the trip to Scotland as Emirates Lions chase further history.

“To get into the quarter-final in any European competition it would be foolish not to take your strongest team possible,” he said.

“We have to evaluate two or three guys. We have to look at Emmanual Tshituka’s red card, but apart from that it should be a clean bill of health.

“Our initial plan was to prepare here [in Johannesburg] fly to Scotland on Tuesday and arrive there on Wednesday.”