Stormers' emotional goodbye to 'great old lady' of SA rugby
Cape Town - 2020 promises to an emotional season of Super Rugby for the Stormers as the franchise says 'goodbye' to Newlands Stadium.
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With the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) having entered into an agreement with Investec that will see the asset management group given development rights to the stadium from 2021, the stadium will almost certainly be demolished or at least redeveloped into commercial space.
From 2021, the Stormers are likely to play their rugby out of the state-of-the-art Cape Town Stadium, the venue for the South African leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
It is a move that makes sense given the well-documented financial struggles facing the union, but leaving one of the most iconic venues in South African rugby history will undoubtedly be difficult for some of the longer serving members of WP Rugby as well as the Newlands faithful.
The only option for the Stormers is to try and turn it all into a positive.
"They are reporting at Newlands that people are phoning for season tickets, which has not happened for a while," coach John Dobson told media this week.
"That is brilliant. There is going to be a lot of emotion for them, but it has to work in our favour.
"We absolutely love Newlands. There is only one real way to say farewell."
The Stormers have never won Super Rugby and have only played in one tournament final back in 2010 against the Bulls in Soweto, which they lost 25-17.
Going the distance again would obviously the perfect way to leave a stadium that has housed rugby matches since 1890.
"We don’t want to over-talk what we are going to do in the competition, but all of us in this room know what the ending should look like at Newlands and we will give everything to get that," added Dobson.
"It has to be in a Super Rugby late stage, if not last stage, playoff.
"That is the way to say goodbye to the great old lady of South African rugby."
Captain Siya Kolisi agreed, adding that the chance to be a part of Newlands' farewell year was a major part of the reason he opted against signing a European deal after the 2019 World Cup.
"It doesn't matter who we're playing, Newlands should always be our fortress and it's something we pride ourselves on," he said.
"It's not only our last time at Newlands, but it's all the other teams' last time at Newlands too and they love coming here.
"We want to make it special for everyone each and every Saturday by giving our best and that all starts here."
The Stormers are at home for their first match of the 2020 campaign when they take on the Hurricanes on February 1.