Land Rover has taken two rugby legends into the South African bush to surprise a fearless team, marking the one-month countdown to the third-biggest sporting event on the planet.

Land Rover, proud Worldwide Partner and Official Vehicle of Rugby World Cup 2019, drove brand ambassador Bryan Habana to the Kwandwe private game reserve in the Eastern Cape to surprise to a team of bush rangers who play touch rugby on a makeshift pitch in the African savannah – home to some of the world’s deadliest wildlife.

The former Springbok was joined by Justin Marshall of New Zealand on the visit, organised to celebrate the diversity and inclusivity of grassroots rugby around the world. The pair delighted the bush rangers by joining in their match – set in 54,000 acres of wilderness that is home to the famous Big Five African wild animals.

Bryan Habana, a Rugby World Cup winner in 2007, said: “This has to be one of the most stunning locations I’ve ever played in, as well as arguably one of the most dangerous! This group of players enjoy everything we all love about the game. Rugby is rugby, no matter where or how you play it.”

Justin Marshall who won 81 caps for New Zealand, said: “To see the guys from Kwandwe playing out here in the middle of the bush has been amazing. What a place to celebrate rugby and to look ahead to New Zealand’s first Rugby World Cup 2019 fixture against the Springboks.”

Habana added: “So much pressure will be on New Zealand going into the tournament off the back of their successive Rugby World Cup victories, but the Springboks often step up a level for such big occasions and we have a great squad, boosted by the return of Siya Kolisi, so I can’t wait.” 

Ryan Hillier, one of the rangers living and working at the reserve, was surprised to see two of his heroes pull up in a Land Rover Discovery, having travelled miles through the bush.

He said: “During the winter months, in particular, when its cooler, we love to come out here and play a bit of touch rugby. It’s not a fenced pitch so we obviously have to be careful. We have had some hippo close by in the past, but we haven’t had to abandon a match due to a lion pitch invasion just yet.” 

Laura Wood, Jaguar Land Rover Head of Global PR, Brand and Partnerships, said: “Land Rover has award-winning, multi-terrain capability, and as a brand we share many of the values of rugby. So to bring the rugby ambassadors to a group of players who regularly show their commitment to the game – despite the location, the terrain and the dangerous spectators – seemed a perfect way to demonstrate Land Rover’s commitment to rugby at all levels, and in all environments.”