JOHANNESBURG – If the South African Rugby Union are successful with their bid to host the 2023 World Cup, Newlands and Kings Park stadiums are set to be left out of the mix and not stage any matches.
Afrikaans newspaper Rapport quoted an impeccable source within SA Rugby who stated that the grand old venues in Cape Town and Durban won’t make the cut due to safety concerns.
The Western Province Rugby Union celebrated 125 years of Newlands’ existence in 2015, but the iconic ground, along with Kings Park, was not part of the upgrades that many rugby stadiums received in preparation for the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa.
As a result, Cape Town Stadium and Moses Mabhida Stadium – both purpose-built for the football showpiece – are being mooted as alternative venues for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
While both Newlands and Kings Park have held several big Tests and Super Rugby matches, as well as Currie Cup finals over the years, it is understood that some of governing body World Rugby’s guarantees with regards to safety at a World Cup cannot be met by these two venues.
It is believed that two areas of particular concern are the width of walkways, which are notoriously narrow at both stadiums, as well as the time it would take to evacuate the spectators.
SA Rugby have appointed Access Management Holdings – which run the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth among other projects in the South African sporting landscape, and have former Saru boss Rian Oberholzer as the managing director – as their agent to help present their Rugby World Cup bid document to World Rugby by June 1 this year.
While Ireland are believed to be the favourites at this stage to host the 2023 edition – having apparently secured the support of New Zealand and Argentina – the final announcement is expected on November 15.
Officials from World Rugby visited South Africa in March to inspect proposed venues and other facilities for the World Cup.
It has been reported that SA Rugby are strongly considering awarding this year’s Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks to Cape Town, but it is not a fait accompli that the game will take place at Newlands stadium.
There is a growing belief that Cape Town Stadium would be a more suitable venue, and it would support the proposed plans for the 2023 World Cup.
The WP Rugby Union and the Sharks have long contemplated a possible shift to the two Fifa World Cup venues in Cape Town and Durban respectively, but no official move has been set in motion as yet.
It is believed that WP have already spoken to a number of stakeholders about being based at the Cape Town Stadium, with talk of a world-class gym also in the works.