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Western Province to play at home of Saru non-racial rugby to preserve Cape Town Stadium pitch for Stormers URC final

Western Province Rugby players celebrate on the pitch.

Western Province will play their next two games at Athlone Stadium. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published May 16, 2023


Cape Town – Preserving the Cape Town Stadium pitch has become such a priority ahead of the Stormers’ United Rugby Championship final that two Western Province matches will be moved to another venue.

The Stormers advanced to the URC final last Saturday after beating Connacht 43-25 in the semi-final, and will now bid to defend their title successfully in the championship decider against Munster on May 27.

Concerns about the Cape Town Stadium pitch have been around for the last few years, but the damage to the surface following the recent Monster Jam event has been evident, with sandy patches visible and players battling in slippery conditions.

That has resulted in WP Rugby announcing on Tuesday that they have shifted their next two Currie Cup matches away from Cape Town Stadium to the Athlone Stadium.

Although the latter venue is primarily a soccer stadium in recent years, it used to be the home of non-racial rugby under the SA Rugby Union (Saru) banner in the 1970s and 1980s, so it is a welcome development to see the oval-ball sport return to such an historic site, where the famous SA Cup final was often hosted.

WP will face the Pumas this Friday at Athlone Stadium (5pm kickoff), and then take on the Lions on Friday, May 26 at the same location (5.05pm), with tickets at R50 via Ticketpro, with season tickets also valid.

“The field preservation is important,” Stormers and WP coach John Dobson said this week. “We will get some work done on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then give the guys a break. It will almost be identical to our Bulls’ preparation.

“At this stage, an extra three kilos on the bench press won’t win you the URC. I just have to run things past the conditioning guys.

“All our coaches are working hard on the Currie Cup. It was a full day of training. It’s just going to be too disruptive to risk anybody on Friday night who will definitely play in the URC final.

“The fact that we can rest a bit now, and have a full training week next week, it’s a big thing for us.”