CAPE TOWN – In the build-up to the Cape Town Sevens, the Blitzboks mentioned the vibe of the event and how they would draw energy from the crowd quite a few times. It would be a waste not to!
The South African leg of the World Sevens Series, played at the Cape Town Stadium, absolutely never disappoints.
Yeah, we haven’t always got the desired results on the second stop on the circuit, but one thing that certainly hasn’t lacked in the five years it’s been held in Green Point, is a vibe like no other when it’s filled and an atmosphere that perhaps only an All Black-Springbok Test - anywhere in South Africa - can match.
That’s quite a statement. But this past weekend, as the Blitzboks played in a repeat of the Dubai final - this time losing to the Kiwis - we saw it again.
It was electric. The sold-out crowd was something else. No wonder the Blitzboks aimed to get some fuel from their costumed supporters. Sure, the entertainment, the dress-up element and the guaranteed party certainly add to all of that.
This weekend, for example, there were the normal live performances and fan-engagement activities between games, while fans also got to see their heroes of the Sevens past.
Last week, the Blitzboks celebrated 20 years of the World Sevens Series as their captains over the last 20 years shared memories from their time on the circuit at a captains dinner at the stadium, and during the action over the weekend, those former skippers were acknowledged as they walked onto the Cape Town Stadium pitch, cheered on by the crowd.
The Cape Town Sevens is always special, and I don’t think it would be exactly the same at any other venue in South Africa. There’s just something about Cape Town Stadium, and with 2021 fast approaching, it’s a venue that could do a lot for the Stormers and Western Province as well.
During the Western Province Rugby awards two weeks ago, WPRU chief executive Paul Zacks spoke about next season being the last one at Newlands, and while there will naturally be a wave of emotions involved, for some of the older players, especially, it could be the start of something new, something better, for the troubled union and struggling Stormers.
And not just because, looking at infrastructure and convenience alone, the Cape Town Stadium is a more suitable fit, but also because I think some of that Sevens flavour and incomparable vibe will filter into Super Rugby as well.
I’d be surprised if it didn’t, to be honest. Yes, I mentioned the entertainment and the partying and the role it plays in that vibe. I also realise that a single tournament played over one weekend a year will always be more impactful and draw a bigger crowd than games played at the same venue in a competition that stretches over 21 weeks.
Yes, to a certain extent, it will be a different crowd to the one that the Sevens weekend has magnetically drawn so successfully in recent years, but the stadium itself has come to be known for that vibe, and that’s not suddenly going to change just because different competitions are played there (remember how big Superhero Sunday at the start of this season was at the very same venue?).
It’s one of the main ingredients in the party that is the Cape Town Sevens, after all.
So, as we look back on another lekker successful Cape Town Sevens tournament, let’s look forward to what it can do for the Stormers and Super Rugby. Let’s look forward to that Sevens vibe, a vibe that can definitely give Super Rugby the boost it needs.