Cape Town Stadium is going to bring a much-needed injection of ‘gees’ to South African rugby when it becomes the home of Western Province in 2021, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
It didn’t end well for the Blitzboks at the Cape Town Sevens. Two botched lineouts basically cost them their home event, as the New Zealand Sevens team beat the South Africans 7-5 in the final. It was a tough one for the home crowd to take, as they left the stadium with glum faces and a deep sense of disappointment.
A win would have been the perfect ending to a spectacular year for South African rugby. Winning the Cape Town Sevens title on home soil would have been a great addition to the Springboks’ World Cup win and their Rugby Championship crown. However, the New Zealanders won both the men’s and women’s titles in the Mother City.
The stadium was almost empty once the Kiwis performed their respective hakas on the field, their ritual after winning a tournament. But, as Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli’s ‘Time to say goodbye’ started to reverberate around the Cape Town Stadium to sign off the weekend, one couldn’t help but think about all the memories that the fans made over the last three days.
It was yet another fabulous staging of the event. The weather may not have been great, but the party was awesome, and it was well organised. But the fact that this tournament is played at such a brilliant venue is really one of the biggest contributing factors to the package as a whole.
There is something magical about the Cape Town Stadium. When it’s packed, like it was during the final – after the bars closed – it was a cauldron of sound and colours. If this place had a roof, it would have been blown off during the national anthems.
Of course, it was fuelled by a day of excessive drinking in the sun and the wind, but the atmosphere was just electric. I would suggest that it may be close to the best atmosphere I have ever experienced at a rugby event in South Africa.
But you only have to go back to the SuperHero Sunday Super Rugby warm-up matches that were held at this venue less than a year ago to know that Cape Town Stadium just brings a new element to a sports experience. As the youngsters would say, ‘it just slaps differently, dog’.
For a number of years I felt that sort of excitement and passion had deserted Newlands over the last few years, even in the Test matches. It’s become a venue that’s become stale and boring. We’re saying goodbye to that grand old cathedral of South African rugby next year, and, to be honest, that moment can’t come soon enough.
Obviously, you can’t compare the two products, in terms of the budgets spent on hosting a Sevens tournament and a normal Vodacom Super Rugby match or as a Test as far as entertainment is concerned. But the potential experience Cape Town Stadium can provide … it just offers a lot more than Newlands in providing a spectacle.
This weekend was another vibe. The Blitzboks may have lost the final, but the people who attended the sevens over the weekend certainly won.