Nice work, Toby

There’s a Media Statement on Saracens website:

Now that all discussions between various stakeholders have been concluded, Saracens has decided the Heineken Cup match against Biarritz on Saturday January 14th will be played not in Cape Town, but in London.

The innovative English champion club was eager to host the first Heineken Cup match ever played outside Europe, to stage a special, spectacular rugby event and to project brilliant images of Cape Town and European rugby around the world. However, we have no wish to be a catalyst for conflict between the City of Cape Town and the Western Province Rugby Union.

Well, they’ve got a whole different image of Cape Town now, thanks to the WPRU.
You may have read my initial thoughts on this here.

Funny, isn’t it? Because Toby Titus, President of the WPRU said that the reasons behind their decision:

once again shows loyalty to its suite holders and fans who regularly attend matches at Newlands

Those same fans that won’t have any chance of seeing a top class European rugby game now. Because Saracens don’t want to play at Newlands. They wanted to play at the Cape Town Stadium. That’s why they applied to play at the Cape Town Stadium.

Is any of this becoming any clear to you yet, Toby?

Evidently not. Here’s Toby again:

The WPRU wholeheartedly embraces the idea of Cape Town attracting international matches and looks forward to hosting other high profile matches at Newlands.

Nope. Saracens have cancelled and Cape Town – and for Cape Town, you can read Newlands – is only getting one crappy Argentina test next year. No Australia, no New Zealand, none of the three England matches. Those are all going to World Cup stadiums in other parts of the country. It looks like England will be playing one of their tests in Nelspruit, for goodness sake. Nelspruit! Why? Because they have a decent stadium and an accommodating rugby Union. Two things missing in the Newlands/WPRU equation.

And who’s whining about that decision? Its Toby!

PE got the All Black Test this year, and the Sevens tournament, and now an England Test. It is an unfair distribution.
Cape Town didn’t have a Test this year, and we accepted that. What is the reason that Cape Town didn’t qualify for an Australian or England Test, or the All Blacks?

What about the people in Cape Town and the Western Cape? We have the best attendances at our matches. It’s not just about Western Province, but all the people of the Western Cape.

Ah yes, the people in Cape Town and the Western Cape, whose interests you have served so well lately.

Cry me a river, Toby, and then read this line quoted just below your whinging:

WPRU’s reluctance to utilise the purpose-built Cape Town Stadium and the manner in which it dealt with Saracens request to use Cape Town Stadium may have hindered their chances and hurt their case to bring top quality rugby to the people of the Western Cape.

Hello? McFly?

No? Still nothing? Never mind. We’ll keep trying, Toby.
Someday, the blinkers are going to have to come off and then there’ll be a whole real world for you to take in. When that moment comes, we’ll be here to help.

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?