Springbok fans (Gallo Images)
Newcastle – Just for the duration of the World Cup, it must be a lot better for your budgeting sanity to be a British-based, pounds-earning South African following the Springboks around than a visitor from our own country.
Unless you count yourself among the super-rich back home, spending money on your daily food and beverage at RWC 2015 – and that after you’ve already forked out pretty fearsome amounts in advance on your long-haul flights and accommodation – is a regular process of wincing calculation and wondering just how much juice your credit card has left in its “tank”.
Healthy numbers of South Africa’s formidable expat community in the UK are trailing the Bok bandwagon, and presumably not thinking “20 to one, 20 to one” too obsessively over the rand/pound exchange rate every time they reach cautiously into their pockets.
But spare a thought for the hardy fans on the Bok-following circuit who earn a considerably more modest crust on the opposite side of the equator.
The trouble with the grand, defiant financial sacrifice of making the pilgrimage from South Africa is that you don’t want to feel you’re having to knyp all the time while soaking in the sights and sounds of the tournament.
It’s your “holiday” as much as anything, and you want to have fun ... and as we know, increasingly little of that comes free these days.
While on the last Bok stop in Birmingham, I paid a quick visit, soon after arrival (sparked by spotting the Eastside Park venue from the right window of my train from London) to the Midlands city’s official RWC fan zone.
Perhaps I should point out that the place wasn’t exactly rocking. It was grassy and spacious, and there were some scattered deckchairs to plonk your travel-weary posterior in while facing the big screen, but watching Argentina v Georgia at Kingsholm on a late Friday afternoon clearly wasn’t a massive lure for the good “Brummie” folk.
Handfuls of people milled around, and there was all the atmosphere of a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey stall at a kindergarten fete (I gather it did liven appreciably during the weekend’s Villa Park-staged SA v Samoa and Australia v Uruguay double header, though I was at the stadium each time).
The one blessing is that entry is free. That’s a good start ... but you might also say it’s the finish as far as any monetary mercy is concerned.
It’s then that things get messy: want to get in that first pint of Heineken? “Five pound please, mate.” Yes, that’s around R100 in our language. Just imagine if you’re planning (or it just happens naturally) the proverbial “good couple”.
Glass of wine? R110. Dare I suggest bottle? R440. Single spirit tot and mixer? R120. Make that a double? R170, which you could say is much better value than the shorter measure, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
If you’re a teetotaller, things are obviously a bit kinder, but not that much. Bottled water goes for R40 -- although there are some complimentary drinking-water taps. Soothing cappuccino, perhaps? R56.
Then there’s your “chow” ... and there your costs very swiftly spiral.
For less-than-gourmet, though palatable enough, bacon rolls: R70 a pop. Cheeseburger and chips? R140.
Having shifted to my latest, hotel base in the north-east ahead of Saturday’s big Boks v Scots showdown, I have already been reminded of how fluctuating costs can wreak havoc with any rand-based budget in Blighty.
Just for example, my room in a typical, three-and-a-half-star type of establishment was priced at R1,160 for bed and breakfast on Tuesday night; come Saturday, and the massive spike in demand through rugby-fan traffic, it will cost some R4,560.
Hotel landline call to my family back home, should I desire it? That would set me back R50 a minute.
I’m fortunate that the vast majority of my broad travel costs are being covered by my company.
Other Saffers at RWC 2015 are not so lucky.
All I can say sympathetically is eish! ... and perhaps gently remind the Springboks that many people have truly spent through their noses to spur them to succeed.
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing. Rob is attending the Bok pool phase of RWC 2015 to provide news and analysis for Sport24 readers.