The South Africans play Pau at The National Rugby Centre Amsterdam on January 14

South African franchise the Cheetahs will be playing one of their home fixtures in the European Challenge Cup in mid January in Amsterdam. And according to the Dutch union, Netherlands rugby fans have really bought in. Literally.

Taking to Instagram yesterday, Rugby Nederland posted that 90% of tickets for the Cheetahs’ match against Pau at The National Rugby Centre Amsterdam (NRCA) have already sold, encouraging fans to seek out the final remaining tickets. With a 5,000 capacity, the union – and the Cheetahs – must be hopeful of a sell-out.

Last season in the Challenge Cup, the Cheetahs played Scarlets and Pau at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, in Parma. However, according to reports, only around 200 spectators showed up each time.

The match in Amsterdam would represent a much different outcome. Of course, we should not be surprised at the tales of Netherlands rugby fans embracing elite rugby in Europe.

Netherlands rugby fans at the World Cup

In our Rugby World Cup wrap-up edition of the magazine, we had a series of pieces on the heroes of the World Cup. And amongst them were Dutch rugby fans who had shown up in numbers for the showcase in France.

Here’s what we wrote in Rugby World magazine:

Jimmy Barten is part of Rugby Club Hilversum, while wife Marielle is the chair of the famous Amsterdam Sevens. So it’s safe to say that rugby means a lot to the family from the Netherlands.

No surprise, then, that they couldn’t wait to tour France for the Rugby World Cup. In fact, they were part of a staggering number of fans who journeyed from the Netherlands to see the top Test sides play ball.

“We travel because we don’t have big games in our area and you always have to travel,” says Jimmy. “But for France you can jump in your car and be there in five or six hours. And then you get to see the best games in the world.

“Most of the group (travelling fans) are a bit older, but hardcore fans will travel around the world and we always go to the Dubai Sevens; I’ve played in Bahrain a few times. There’s a hardcore group of fans who always keep in touch with each other, via facebook or email, and always know who’s going.”

The couple confirm they know of hundreds of fans heading over from the Netherlands, with Marielle saying: “With every club, they are going.”

As Jimmy adds: “When we went to the stadium in Marseille or Lyon, you always met people you know. There was really a lot of Dutch people.”

Asked who they were backing, the couple say that it’s the joy of rugby that brings them and while Jimmy has been known to sport a Scotland shirt – owing to a relationship with Tim Visser – he laughs about the opportunity to pick a favourite side every match.

So should we expect an army of fans in orange touring World Cups of the future, even if their national side don’t qualify? Marielle replies: “Now it’s much easier for everybody to get tickets by internet.” We’ll take that as a yes then.

It was a drive away this time. But don’t be shocked to see Dutch fans at the 2025 and 2027 events.

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on FacebookInstagram and Twitter/X.