A cloud of uncertainty hangs over Newlands hosting a Test against the All Blacks later this year, TANK LANNING and ZELIM NEL debate whether the match should be moved to Cape Town Stadium.
Tank says – Cape Town Stadium
Just that pathetic excuse for a screen – now packed into the bottom corner of the South stand – should be reason enough to move, but when last did you try and buy a beer during a big game at Newlands? I am guessing never, because if you had, you would still be in that grand stand bomb shelter they call a bar!
So you can live without a beer for 80 minutes. Fair enough. When last did you try and leave the grand old dame of Cape Town just after the final whistle? Not too bad an experience – if you enjoy being rubbed up by strangers for 20 minutes that is!
Imagine that, but in an emergency evacuation because of a fire or bomb scare? The carnage such an evacuation would cause is unfathomable.
And for just that reason alone – fan and player safety – the WPRU, and thus the Bok vs All Black Test later this year, needs to move to the Cape Town Stadium.
We also deserve a vastly improved matchday experience. Things like WiFi, pre-ordering match refreshments and having it delivered to your seats, bigger- and better-placed seats, mini restaurants or beer gardens and supervised kids areas, big screens with smaller screens clipped onto the back of them, novel crowd interaction activations, TV angles and cameras exclusive to the stadium should be what we are thinking about.
And that can only start to happen at these new stadia like the CT Stadium.
Look, it’s not all beer and skittles in Mouille Point. Getting there is a mission given the single road in, the roof leaks, there are no suites, and it’s seating structure is better suited to football.
But it remains the way forward for rugby. Make a plan!
Zelim says – Newlands
Opening Pandora’s box begins with breaking the rules. Whether you like it or not, Western Province are the custodians of rugby in the Western Cape, and their designated venue is Newlands Stadium.
If they meet the required health and safety standards by the June deadline (pffft!), then the Test against the All Blacks must take place at Cape Town’s 129-year-old rugby ground, if that’s where they choose to host it.
And I think that’s where supporters and stakeholders should be focusing their energy – on making sure that the people in office at WP Rugby are equipped to make business decisions about where such matches will be played in the future.
As much as I’m in the vanguard of calls to make the game more professional, rugby’s global, national, provincial, club and high school legacies are unique assets. A treasure-chest of memories will become assigned to a venue that future generations only get to experience on YouTube if WP Rugby moves to Cape Town Stadium. That’s something I’d be reticent to green light.
Having said that, Newlands is in desperate need of a makeover. For years, talk of health and safety issues have echoed through the smoke-filled stairwells of the old arena on matchday, but grand plans to redevelop Newlands appear to have been lost in the bowels of the stadium.
It’s sometimes difficult to appreciate the rich history at a venue that assigns the media to the box furthest from the post-match press conference, and doesn’t offer scribes reliable WiFi.
And that’s where change is needed.
Instead of flying surplus elected officials around the world on first-class Super Rugby holiday, the amateur club presidents should consider electing representatives who are capable of generating the revenue required to upgrade Newlands, instead of scraping money together to acquire a second-hand big screen.
You’ve read what they think, now let us know where you stand in The Big Debate!