Part 2: Farewell to iconic Newlands

The Stormers will bid farewell to Newlands when they move to the Cape Town Stadium in 2021. In the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine, we look back at memories of this special ground.

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DILLYN LEYDS (Former Stormers fullback)

With my family, I have made it no secret that one of my biggest dreams was to run out at Newlands and play alongside my brother. It was really tough to leave. Especially having grown up in Cape Town with a rugby-mad family. I used to watch my dad and uncle play club rugby in Strand every weekend. I remember my primary school won a competition to play at Newlands during halftime of one of the games and I literally could not sleep the night before. I remember that day so clearly, driving to Newlands and being able to walk on the field. Obviously we were barefoot and you felt like you were floating on the grass. It was amazing. I think back to my first try at Newlands: it was against the Blues in 2015 and it was a special moment. I have been lucky to be involved in a number of north-south derbies and those are always great. The Stormers vs Chiefs game in 2017 was crazy. Even last year, the Stormers vs Crusaders game, when we were coming down on the bus on Boundary Road, I don’t think I have ever seen so many people waiting there just for us to get off the bus and into the changing room. The fans see us for about five seconds when we get off the bus and into the changing rooms but I just remember getting off the bus, taking off my earphones and the people were going mad, screaming, shouting and waving flags. I could not believe it. It is going to be sad to see Newlands go. It would have been amazing if we could have continued doing well in this campaign and get a home quarter-final or semi-final, just to get Newlands as full as we possibly can.

SCHALK BRITS (Former Stormers hooker)

I can remember when they used to have a scholar section in the stands. You actually had to walk on to the pitch to get to your seat on the Railway Stand and it was unbelievable. I can remember watching Brendan Venter in 1997 playing for Western Province against Free State. So my history with Newlands has come a long way. My first time playing there was for Paul Roos against Boland Landbou. I remember watching a massive game between England and New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup where Jonah Lomu ran over Mike Catt. My funniest memory was just before a massive game against either the Bulls or Sharks. Schalk Burger and Andries Bekker were sitting on the one side of me and then three or four seats on was Brian Mujati. As we were sitting there and having a chat and communicating – when everything was extremely serious and everyone was focused. The next moment Brian takes out his mouthguard and as he does it, his front tooth comes out with it. So now he shows everyone he is missing a front tooth. I started getting the giggles and could not stop laughing. As we ran out on to the field, he kept his mouthguard on and made sure not to smile. We got a good result in the end and with five minutes to go I said please to send a message up to make Brian Mujati the Man of the Match because he played without a front tooth for the whole match.

SCHALK BURGER (Former Stormers captain)

I loved Cape Town and I think I was privileged to start my career here. There are a lot of guys who didn’t have the opportunity to play for Western Province and the Stormers like I did for 14 years. I grew up at Newlands. I grew up there. My dad played there. My first memory of rugby is going to watch the captain’s run. Back then they still had a big aluminium tub and Danie Gerber would come off and would grab some water and they would chuck the cups back at you. They still had freshly squeezed oranges and stuff. They used to have the most amazing scholars seats, like right in front – almost where the bench would sit now. It was the smell of rugby – the grass and the Deep Heat – and the sound of the tackles. The new stadium is a phenomenal facility, there is no doubt. It has got unique atmosphere. There is nothing wrong with the new facility. In life, there is heritage and history. I am a traditionalist and I have so many good memories at Newlands. You can’t buy that. In life, things are moving so fast and it is easy to forget and say that Newlands is compromised and that it is difficult to get to. That is the price you pay to sit in one of the legends of rugby.

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