WP cry foul on Saracens game
Cape Town - The Western Province Rugby Union announced that although they considered Saracens request to host one of their Heineken Cup matches at Cape Town Stadium, they felt its in Western Province rugby's best interests to host the match at Newlands.
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Die Burger initially reported that Cape Town Stadium would almost certainly play host to Sarries' Heineken Cup pool match against French club, Biarritz on January 14.
However, in a statement from the WPRU, WP's executive committee decided against Saracens' request, citing a number of reasons.
The statement read: "After a recent meeting by the Western Province Rugby Football Union Executive Committee, the request by Saracens to host the match at Cape Town Stadium was considered. However, the Executive Committee decided that the home of rugby, Newlands, would stage this historic match.
"According to the South African Rugby Union Constitution the final decision regarding the match venue lies in the hands of the host union."
"The WPRFU Executive Committee unanimously agreed that Newlands is currently the home of rugby in the Western Province, and will be treated as such for the foreseeable future. The Western Province Rugby Football Union embraces such a historic match which will form part of the busy 2012 Super Rugby and Test Match schedule at Newlands Stadium."
Cape Town Stadium, one of the 6 newly-built stadiums for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, currently only serves as a home venue for Ajax Cape Town during the PSL season.
However, with Ajax's last fixture of 2011 scheduled for early December and their first home game of 2012 only scheduled for February, the stadium would be vacant for almost two months and readily available for Saracens' match, but the WPRU once again cited sentimental reasons to back their decision.
The last and only time rugby was played at the Cape Town Stadium was when the Stormers hosted Boland in their traditional pre-season warm-up match. The venue for next year's match has not yet been finalised.
"Newlands is one of the oldest rugby stadia in the world, with excellent facilities and currently boasts some of the highest attendance levels in world rugby," continued the statement.
"The decision to agree to the hosting of the match at Newlands was made in the best interests of WP Rugby and once again shows loyalty to its suite holders and fans who regularly attend matches at Newlands."
Hosting the Heineken Cup match at Newlands could mean that all of WPRU's visible sponsorships and branding would have to be entirely removed from the stadium to make way for that of the Heineken Cup's official sponsors, whereas the Cape Town Stadium is void of any branding at this stage. However, Cape Town Stadium only boasts a third of the hospitality suites Newlands currently possesses.
The Stormers are also expected to play in a series of pre-season matches at their home, barely two weeks after the Heineken Cup match and by the time the Super Rugby season starts, the stadium will already have been used extensively, while it's Green Point-located counterpart would hardly have been touched.
The WPRU then proceeded to once again pour cold water onto any theories suggesting the oldest union in the country would consider a move to the R4.4 billion structure.
"The WPRFU wholeheartedly embraces the idea of Cape Town attracting international matches and looks forward to hosting other high profile matches at Newlands.
"Additionally the WPRFU hopes to end speculation of the move to The Cape Town stadium. There is currently no intention to move WP Rugby to the Cape Town stadium."
In reaction to the news, Saracens released the following statement: "We are delighted that two world class venues in Cape Town both want to stage the historic Heineken Cup match between Saracens and Biarritz on Saturday January 14.
"We will now continue detailed discussions with all parties."