The South African Rugby Union released the Springbok’s home fixtures up to 2015. While there is a new four-team tournament next year, with Nelspruit being anointed a Test venue, an interesting side note is that all the Test matches featuring New Zealand will be played in Johannesburg, at either FNB Stadium or Ellis Park.
I’m sure there are many in Cape Town who feel they are being cheated, even though they get Australia twice in the same period. The last time South Africa played New Zealand in Cape Town was 2008 when South Africa were embarrassingly beaten 19-0 by the All Blacks. Perhaps the fact that Cape Town’s climate is startlingly similar to New Zealand’s is another reason why another All Blacks Test hasn’t been played there?
Cape Town Stadium was built in Green Point, is modern, centrally located and easily accessible by road, and has 60,000 seats. Newlands was founded in 1888, and has gradually evolved with the times, now boasting around 50,000 capacity though some of that is standing. It is crammed into a suburb where road access is poor though rail access is near by (though not used enough by the Cape Town consumer, especially many white residents who barely know it exists). I kid you not. I lived in Cape Town for a year and a half, with many locals not knowing there was a train line there or had never even used it.
Newlands is owned by the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU), which in turn is controlled by the 70-plus clubs that constitute it. It is an amateur body compared to the unions business arm, WP Rugby. While the WPRFU has said time and again it is not moving from Newlands, with amateur attitudes ruling the way, surely it is time for the union to modernise and be willing to part with history for the sake of the future?
The land that Newlands is built on is worth millions. Selling it would arguably instantly make Western Province the richest rugby union in South Africa. Surely an agreement can be found, especially with Western Province and the Stormers the best supported franchise in Super rugby in South Africa, where WP buys into Cape Stadium. Provincial rugby bosses love money, and Cape Town Staium offers potential revenue that Newlands, though a fabled ground of history, can’t match.
Until then, I guess Capetonians will have to make due with Australia and lesser lights. For those that live in Johannesburg, the All Blacks are coming every year till 2015.