This is another prewritten post, so I don’t know who is challenging for the 2018 World Cup. In fact, at this stage (the tournament kicks off in about 3 hours), even Google is unaware:
And you know that if Google doesn’t know, then neither does anyone else.
8 years ago, it was the final of the World Cup in South Africa. And, while it wasn’t held in Cape Town, I still think a quota photo of the stadium is somehow appropriate. After all, one of the semi-finals (I believe there’s one of them happening today?) was held here:
OK, so here it is. The thing which I was too tired to write last night. A quick run down of my experiences with my son at the Cape Town Sevens Finals Day yesterday.
The parking: I’ve told you how to do this before, but ok, I’ll tell you again. You park at the CTICC (right hand lane off the elevated freeway, almost as if you were about to do a U-turn to go back out of town at Walter Sisulu) and walk through to the Civic Centre (it’s 900m, you’ll manage), from where you get the shuttle bus up to the stadium. On your return, you get the bus to Thibault Square, and walk down Lower Long to the CTICC (it’s 600m, you’ll be fine). The parking lot exits directly onto the elevated freeway, so no traffic problems at all. So it’s faster, cheaper and easier than the Waterfront. Or virtually anywhere else.
The stadium: I’ve been to several concerts, many football and rugby events and precisely no happy-clappy religious gatherings at the stadium, and (without meaning to be negative) each of them has had their own little niggles. Not yesterday. The experience was flawless. Friendly staff, little (or no) queuing for refreshments (including at the bars), a wide variety of foods, lots of activities and freebies for the kids. Brilliant.
The entertainment: Lots going on between the games kept us interested. Dancing, music, beagle herding, enthusiastic MCs. The highlight for us (and many others, I suspect) was the “Rugby Skills” competition for a few happily inebriated fans towards the end. Very funny and very well managed.
The rugby: It was good fun and played in good spirit, as it should be. England were in self-destruct mode, New Zealand were in we’re-out-to-shock-the-opposition mode, the USA was basically just speed and muscle and the Fijians were just muscle. And then there was the Blitzbokke, who were clear favourites for the win.
But that didn’t happen, which brings me to my final point.
The crowd: Oh dear. I’m going to get into trouble for writing this, but that’s rarely stopped me before, so here goes.
We’re repeatedly told that Cape Town is the “best” leg of the 7s. I don’t know how they work these sort of things out – hey, maybe they tell everyone that their event is the best. That would be a bit naughty, but then, people are a bit naughty sometimes.
The thing is, if this alleged optimal status has really been bestowed upon Cape Town’s event, then it must surely only be for the fancy dress and the partying. Because yes, Cape Town does do the fancy dress and the partying very well. When it comes to actually supporting the rugby though, the fans are fickle and fairweather (OMG, he said it! And now see how the hordes are gathering their flaming torches and pitchforks! OMG! I can’t bear to watch!).
I took a few pics to illustrate my point.
Here’s the scene as the Blitzbokke played their first game (a fortuitous, ref-assisted win over Fiji). 60,000 fans in full voice:
Incredible gees, colour, passion, volume etc etc (allowing for iconic imagery like this). And it was the same for the second game against New Zealand. But when they lost that, and with it, any chance of winning the event, this was the scene during their last game of the day – a third place play off against Canada:
Either a shedload of fans couldn’t actually be bothered any more, or else they had turned up in grey plastic seat fancy dress.
And it got worse. Even more people left before the New Zealand v Argentina Final:
and we were one of only a few hundred that stayed for the Trophy presentation:
OK. So some points here:
South African sports fans are notoriously fickle and fair-weather. We knew this already. Comparing photos one and two above, indicates those fickle fans who came to see South Africa win, versus those real fans who came to see South Africa play.
I don’t know if this happens at every 7s event. Do Australian fans leave once their team has been beaten once in Sydney? Is the same in England, Scotland, New Zealand, Canada and the USA? And if it is, does anyone even bother to turn up to watch in Dubai and Singapore?
There were very few people in the stands to see Wales v Russia, because it’s a meh game between two sides who lost a lot on Day 1 – well, ok. Equally though, that won’t be replayed all around the rugby-playing world. The final (and the trophy presentation thereafter, will). It’s not a great advert for the event when it’s being played (or presented) in front of tens of thousands of empty seats. And yet we all cried about not getting the Rugby World Cup in 2023.
That said, the spin is obviously good, because (as I may have mentioned earlier) Cape Town was voted the Best 7s Event on the Tour.
So, all in all, I think it shows a complete lack of manners and it really doesn’t look great on the international stage, but hey – it’s a free country (well, sort of, anyway). I’m not saying that you have to stay until the end. You’re free to leave when you want. Equally, I’m free to pass comment on you leaving when you want, you disrespectful, fair-weather, part-time, so-called rugby supporters.
It’s been a long, hot day at the Sevens in Cape Town with the boy. We left just after 9 in the morning, we got home just after 9 in the evening, I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and I make that about 12 hours. And I think he had fun, despite not being the most sporting of types.
I have a few photos (from my phone, I didn’t take the camera), and a few thoughts (as ever), but I’m simply too tired right now.
I extracted the SD card from the camera to upload the photos from this weekend’s Cape Town 7s experience and was immediately confronted by all (or more) of the photos I took last weekend. These hadn’t been uploaded because the intervening 7 days were chaotically busy.
From there, it was a fairly straightforward leap to yesterday’s amazing day out at the stadium. My photos are here.
Obviously, I don’t know what sort of show the Dubai or Edinburgh or Nuuk (?) 7s put on, but I have to say that what Cape Town does seems to be very well received by all those involved. (Although of course they’re hardly likely to turn around and slag the place off in these days of mutual ego massaging.) The atmosphere was amazing, the entertainment was superb, the rugby was absorbing and even the final was balanced upon a knife-edge right up to the final kick. This being my kids first 7s experience, it was always going to be that way – never forget Alex’s first footy match was a 7-0, and their first cricket match finished with an incredible SA win off the last ball after a missed run out opportunity.
This time around, England were the beneficiaries of the last minute miss, and really the only disappointment of the day was how few people stayed around to see the trophy presentation. ‘Bad losers’ might be a bit harsh, but after the phenomenal support and sporting reception given to all the teams throughout the day, that extra 10 minutes would have made a big difference, especially given just how tight that last game was. Sadly, all the photos of England’s presentation and celebration are against a backdrop of empty seats. That’s not how it was for the previous 9 hours, nor how it should have been for the last ten minutes.
As Tom Mitchell stepped up to take this second half conversion right in front of us, I remarked on how important it was going to be, and so it proved, being the 2 point difference between the teams at the end.