The Vodacom Bulls, the Emirates Lions, Leinster, Zebre and the Vodacom URC have come together in the spirit of rugby to serve fans and lovers of enthralling sportainment in Gauteng, with a feast to remember.
The two big Jukskei rivals will host consecutive double-header weekends over Rounds 17 (Saturday, 15 April) and 18 (Saturday, 22 April) of the 2022-23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship, at Ellis Park and Loftus Versfeld respectively.
The return double-header weekend at Loftus will also feature a bruising South African domestic rugby clash in Round 7 of the 2023 Currie Cup competition, a contest for bragging rights that cuts across the Jukskei.
Bulls CEO Edgar Rathbone commended the tournament officials for their flexibility in supporting clubs that are seeking to create meaningful experiences for fans around the competition.
“I commend Martin [Anayi] and the entire URC team, our sponsors and the broadcaster[s] for their unwavering support as we are always exploring ways in which we can better our offering to all of our patrons. The spirit of the competition is one that fosters unity amongst the franchises and we are duty bound to collaborate for the growth and betterment of our sport.”
“We are buoyant that this double-header will add value for the money South Africans spend around game days and ultimately we are also confident that the quality of rugby on display will rubber-stamp the tournament’s legacy in the growth of the sport in our country.”
Lions CEO Rudolf Straeuli remarked: “We are incredibly excited at the prospect of hosting three quality international club sides all in one day at the iconic Emirates Airline Park. Heading across the Jukskei the following weekend to Loftus Versfeld doesn’t get any better from an overall sportainment experience by the two host franchises.”
“Since its inception, the URC, in partnership with their sponsor and broadcast partners, have been at the forefront of sports innovation and the double-header weekends are testament to this.
“Sport in South Africa is constantly in search of creativity especially when it comes to fan engagement, and we believe that through this unique collaboration, rugby in particular can lead the way in bringing stakeholders together and growing the game for the greater good.”
Stefan van der Merwe, chief commercial officer, extols the double-header as the best opportunity yet to rubber stamp the tournament as a family-oriented product.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have the willing support and partnership from the participating franchises in wanting to make this day a success and it is our collective ambition to put together two weekends that will round off what has already been a historic season of United Rugby Championship rugby,”
“We have seen the power of having multiple games in one venue in the past and how when that is complemented by great entertainment for the whole family, everyone can feel as though they got something out of a wonderful family day out in the sun. This is a formula that has worked well, specifically in this competition in Wales, and we are confident that we can learn and borrow from that model,”
“We had more than 41,000 people visit Loftus for the North versus South derby and we are confident that Gauteng will come together again and set another new Vodacom United Rugby Championship record with 52,000 people at the fortress.”
These double-header events in South Africa are the first to be held in the URC outside of Wales where Judgement Day has set the standard since 2013. Now, the Lions and Bulls are bringing a cross-hemisphere flavour to a concept the league is keen to develop.
As a result of these event changes, alterations have also been made to the kick-off times of all four games. The fixtures have now been confirmed as follows:
Saturday, 15 April (Ellis Park, Johannesburg), Bulls v Zebre (1pm); Lions v Leinster (4pm).
Saturday, 22 April (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria), Lions v Zebre (1pm); Bulls v Leinster (4pm).
Photo: Ryan Byrne/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix