So backward…

Astounding news today that the Western Province Rugby Union (WPRU) have blocked the much anticipated “exhibition” Heineken Cup game between Saracens and Biarritz from being played at the Cape Town Stadium, stating:

The WPRFU Executive Committee decided that the home of rugby, Newlands, would stage this historic match. According to the South African Rugby Union Constitution the final decision regarding the match venue lies in the hands of the host union.

This news was greeted by a hearty rattle of walking sticks and zimmer frames.

The thing is though, Saracens – who made the official approach to have the match played in Cape Town – don’t want to play at Newlands. They want to play at the Cape Town Stadium, hence their official approach to have the game played at… er… the Cape Town Stadium.

This could be seen as a not-so-subtle hint that WPRU has no intention of moving to the new stadium. A not-so-subtle hint which mirrors the no-so-subtle hint of Newlands only being awarded the South Africa v Argentina test next year, which all the “big” tests (Australia, New Zealand, England) went to 2010 World Cup venues.

The Committee unanimously agreed that Newlands is currently the home of rugby in the Western Province, and will be treated as such for the foreseeable future. Newlands is one of the oldest rugby stadia in the world, with excellent facilities and currently boasts some of the highest attendance levels in world rugby.

Excellent facilities including decaying concrete, poor lighting, no parking and so on. And those attendance levels? Sure, they’re great – but  how many of those fans wouldn’t travel 10km up the road for a better experience at a better stadium?

It’s a poke in the eye for the City of Cape Town. A reminder of who runs rugby in the Cape. A sign of what’s to come if the City thinks it’s going to “force” WPRU away from Newlands. It’s a watershed moment and instead of embracing common sense and the wishes of so many people in Cape Town, WPRU are obstinately stuck in the past, sitting blinkered in their own little world.

Whether the game will now even go ahead at all is yet to be seen. If not, that would mean a loss of revenue for many stakeholders – including WPRU.

How long before they learn their lesson?

10 thoughts on “So backward…

  1. As an atheist, you cannot begin to understand the finer points of the Rugby Religion in South Africa.

  2. Carl Botha > Please. I know. I understand.
    If my beloved Blades ever moved away from Beautiful Down Town Bramall Lane, I would be heartbroken.
    Change is hard to accept, but the first stage is overcoming one’s denial that it should happen.

  3. My friend … my friend … my friend …

    NOT ” overcoming one’s denial ” is the basis of the Dogma of these religions.

    (Or did you forget?)

    And beware, your post is borderline-religious-hate-speech anyway.

  4. Here’s a little snippet you may not be aware of:

    Cape Town Stadium management have asked for a further R220m over the next couple of years for…wait for it…additional corporate facilities (boxes) at the request of a certain body named the WPRU.

    Now, something else you may not be aware of, is that the City (contrary to perception) is not given to throwing vast sums of money at a project in the hope of something happening. If they want to build more boxes at Cape Town stadium because the WPRU asked for them, you can be pretty sure that “in the foreseeable future” simply means until the upgrades to CTS are completed.

    A couple of years ago now, the City had a copy of a WPRU report showing the expense that would need to be spend on Newlands to bring it up to modern standards, and maintain those few bits that are already there. And R200m? Small change in comparison.

    I’ve been to Newlands. It’s been the home of WP all my life. The atmosphere there is something else. But I’ve been to Newlands. And I know the absolute shambolic nature of getting there, and getting home again. And into and out of the ground.

    And WPRU NEED to move. If they think the ground gets full now, they should see how full CTS would get since people can actually get there (I know I’d be prepared to go a whole lot more often).

  5. The ordinary folk (and season holders) suffer from the dirty, badly in need of upgrade, stadium, lousy toilets etc., at Newlands. The suite holders, no doubt, are beautifully catered for. As you say, a rattling of walking sticks. Have they ever watched a match in the Railway Stand lately?

  6. @Val “Have they ever watched a match in the Railway Stand lately?”

    Totally agree. I had the displeasure of free tickets in the railway stand. Never ever again. Bugger the suite holders, move to CTS now.

  7. Well, news this morning is that the match is back in London. Because Saracens don’t want to play at Newlands. They want to play at Cape Town Stadium. Well done WPRFU. You bunch of clowns.

  8. “Newlands is one of the oldest rugby stadia in the world, with excellent facilities” – a staggering quote from the WPRU. I have an image of the speaker having not set foot outside of the southern suburbs in the last fifty years. The world has moved on and we no longer watch sport in cramped, dirty, uncomfortable, inaccesible death traps.

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