Cape Town Rugby Festival – a few thoughts

How any rugby fan could possibly ever complain about vuvuzelas after yesterday’s inaugural rugby match at the Cape Town Stadium is beyond me. At least they make you realise that you’re at a major sporting event.
As for yesterday, I have experienced more atmosphere on the moon. Not personally, obviously, but my good friend Buzz Aldrin assures me that it was one long party while they were up there, although bodily functions were a little difficult to perform. 
What a sterile occasion. Sure, rugby fans can drink a lot, but they are seemingly almost completely silent during big games. 40,000 of them, mainly white, quiet as mice for large periods of the game. When the stadium announcer has to organise and then continually propagate a Mexican Wave, then you know that something’s not quite right.  

In fact, the biggest cheer of the day was for Emperor of the Western Cape, Helen Zille and ineffectual City Mayor, Dan Plato, who entered the field pre-game to a bizarre Medieval-style regal trumpet fanfare, then gave overtly political speeches about how great it was to have a stadium, frequently interrupted by sycophantic and raptuous applause.
Quite where those speeches were for the football a couple of weeks back is beyond me, although every cynical bone in my body (and I have a few) is screaming something about the “wrong audience”.

Bryan Habana also got a huge ovation when he came out in the first half for a bit of a warm up. Later in the match, he came on for 20 minutes and didn’t touch the ball once. Obviously, he would have scored loads of tries if he had touched it though, because he’s Bryan Habana.

For those of you that don’t follow me on twitter, my son was horribly ill on Friday night and Saturday morning and wasn’t allowed to go to the match (Doctor’s orders). Both he and I were hugely disappointed. (Our plans for Saturday morning will also have to be rearranged). So he didn’t pass his World Cup readiness test.
The Stadium, on the other hand, did (I think). Yes – there were traffic issues on the way into town – mainly thanks to the disco effect traffic lights at Buitengracht and Western Boulevard – and yes, our seats were removed to make way for a TV camera position. But we got there in plenty of time and we were swiftly apologised to by Sail-StadeFrance staff and escorted to the VIP section to watch the game. Nice.

I haven’t heard much public opinion on the organisation for this event, but I certainly didn’t see any major problems. The traffic on the way out was amazing – 29 minutes from leaving our seats to getting home to Kenilworth. It regularly takes longer than that to get home from the rugby at Newlands, which is less than a quarter of the distance.

The stadium is looking superb, and despite the breezy conditions outside, was very sheltered within – no problems for the kickers. The pitch looked great and the players certainly seemed to enjoy the day. Even the Boland team, who were beaten 47-13. All in all, it seemed like a great success and who knows if it will help WPRU to do the sensible thing and move from Newlands.

If they do, they’ll need to import some more excitable fans, though.

Cape Town Rugby Festival set on flickr.

  • Tara

    Dude, you can’t move them from Newlands. It’s an institution.

    And I’m royally ticked off that I can’t think of a British example that would make you bleeding well understand.

    Maybe I should relate it to you not being able to walk around Jeremy’s lighthouse?

  • Tara > The reason that you can’t think of a British example is that we DO move on. Man City from Maine Road to Eastlands, Arsenal from Highbury to the Emirates, England games from the old Wembley to… er… the New Wembley.

    etc etc.

  • Tara

    Yeah but there was resistance to the idea I’m sure.

    Anyway, I thought I’d put in an attempt at fighting the “good fight” but it’s difficult when I honestly couldn’t care about the sport, let alone where they play it.

    So…kiddo feeling bit better or still wretched?

  • ctguy

    The move will eventually happen. Maintenance, poor access, poor access, poor access, difficulties in planning modern major events…will see WP rugby move to the Mercedez Benz of stadia, in the future.

    The move will be easy. Green Point stadium operators already own 25% of WP Rugby. Surely there will be common ground.

    Sentiment doesn’t pay the bills.

    Did you know? The first rugby match in RSA was played in Green Point, and the oldest rugby club in South Africa, Hamiltons, is adjacent to Cape Town Stadium.

  • Ro

    Sounds like a positive result for the stadium, if not for the audience or the match.

    With a little luck, the football that’s going to be there in a few months will do better in terms of both 🙂

    I hope youngster is feeling much better now. This is something you’ll be able to give him stick over for the rest of his life!
    .-= Ro´s last blog ..Killer Konfektionery =-.

  • I remember there were quite a few bleats when the Gunners moved from Highbury to the new and sinfully gorgeous Emirates venue, despite the fact that the old stadium was basically a converted sheep pen. Arsene Wenger – God bless his Frog heart – told the weepers to knob off. And that’s I’m telling everyone who complains about rugby teams having to move into the newer, bigger and better venues. Knob. Off.

  • BobMabena

    Bring on the move…
    I love Newlands, but this new stadium is just awesome…. Facilities and viewing angles are way better than Newlands.

  • Tara > There was, but no-one looks back and says how much better the old place was, do they?
    Apart from the lighthouse, obviously. Because that was better.
    Kiddo on the mend, but only running at 80%, thanks.

    ctguy > Mercedes Benz – how insulting. It’s far nicer than that.
    Yes, the move will come. At some point.
    And yes, I knew about Hammy’s.
    Did you know that I used to play football there? My first game was a 0-0 draw and I got knocked out by a shot about 10 minutes in.

    Ro > He was so disappointed. Broke my heart. On the mend now though.
    He WILL go to the football – vomiting or not.

    Sipho > As I said above, people may hate change, but once it’s done, no-one looks back – except in fully-acceptable nostalgia.

    BobM > Nice place, isn’t it?

  • Tall Accountant

    Aaah 6000 – misguided again…
    Firstly you couldn’t have taken in sweeties for Alex (as per your previous post) because they would have been confiscated – harsh I think.
    The quiet atmosphere from the ‘dreaded rugby supporters’ was due to the fact that most people were there to admire the awesome stadium, not to watch a meaningless game of rugby between Stormers B and the Country Bumpkins . What is this obsession with having to having to make a bloody racket and act all excited when gathered in groups of a thousand or more. CT rugby fans are certainly the most loyal and probably excitable in the country but just cause they are not banging drums and blowing trumpets doesn’t mean they are not having fun. I’m certain that if a meaningful WP/Stormers/Bok game was held at Green Point the atmosphere would be incredible- and people could actually watch the action without being deafened by a single toned, annoyingly loud, gob dripping vuvuzela. I didn’t hear one on Sat and thank goodness. Fine defend the beast – it’s unique, it’s ours, whatever – everyone seems to miss the point that the noise is just really annoying. Do we really expect Klaus from Munich to fly all the way here, part with a small fortune for flights, tickets and accomodation and then go home with tinnitus after a thoroughly unpleasant game and say, “oh well, it was a unique experience”. Ja – uniquely rubbish.

  • TA > Oh TA. Purhlease. Assableeeef.
    Of course I could have taken in sweets for Alex – I wasn’t taking a full confectionery store. Just a couple of packets of Werther’s Originals, which still came along – and got in with no issue – despite his unfortunate absence.

    And then the whole rugby v football debate explodes again. Kaboom.

    OK – let’s put it this way. On Saturday, you claim that 40,000 rugby fans turned up “to admire the awesome stadium, not to watch a meaningless game of rugby between Stormers B and the Country Bumpkins”. Fine – I’ll give you that.
    But then, a couple of weeks ago, 20,000 football fans turned up “to admire the awesome stadium, not to watch a meaningless game of football between Ajax and sorry Santos”. And the atmosphere was AMAZING. TREMENDOUS.

    Or, put more qualitatively: just “present”, in stark contrast to this past weekend.

    If that silence is what makes rugby fans happy, then I’m happy for them. But you and I have both been to Newlands (together on one chilly evening when you wouldn’t share your blanket, as I recall) (well, not with me, anyway).
    And we know that there are times when it goes completely silent. You”ll never get that at a footy game.

    Anyway – I’ll finish with one thing I’m sure we’ll agree on: Vive le differerence.

    P.S. Theoretically, Klaus from Munich will only be in Cape Town for match 61 (SF1). But I’ll look out for him and gob in his ear, Rudi Voller-like.

  • While i wasn’t at the rugby fest one of the things I did enjoy about the soccer fest was the mixed crowd – ages, races, levels of intelligence and all. also found the vuvus well annoying in the (echoing) food buying areas but once in the stands they didn’t bother me at all – even tho we were surrounded by them. The atmosphere really was electric.
    .-= Joy-Anne´s last blog ..Eddie Izzard in South Africa – A Review =-.

  • Joy-Anne > Still by far the most culturally mixed events I have been to are big footy games.

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  • ctguy

    Soccer fest atmosphere was muuuuch better. Less rehearsed. More colourful.

    The stadium is German designed, hence the Mercedes reference. The stadium is so Germany. Simple, elegant, light and airy….the crowd and city provides the colour and character.

    Oh wait..thats what the architect wanted.

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