DURBAN – Next weekend promises to be chock full of action for Durban with what is being dubbed “The Festival of Rugby” descending on the city.
The Springboks will be in town to face off against Argentina on Saturday for the first game of the Rugby Championship, but the Sharks will also be making history.
For the first time, they will play at Moses Mabhida Stadium against French side Bordeaux Bègles.
This game will precede the Springbok match, on Friday night.
Eduard Coetzee, the Sharks’ chief operating officer, who played a big role in getting the French side to Durban, said the fixture would help raise Durban’s tourism profile.
“Durban is an important city in South Africa, especially from a tourism point of view, and Durban Tourism is one of our sponsors, so it is a big step for us,” said Coetzee.
“We have started initial conversations where this could be a three-year contract, so next year let’s see if we can bring a Munster, or Leicester, or Stade Francais because it showcases the city and it gives us a chance to play in that stadium without jeopardising the relationships we have with our season ticket holders, suite holders and sponsors.
“We have contracts with them that we want to honour, so we can’t move Currie Cup, Super Rugby and Test matches to Moses Mabhida because they are part of contracts and agreements we have signed with these stakeholders.”
Coetzee stressed that the fixture was not a sign that the Sharks were going to move to Moses Mabhida.
“It is important to note that it is not a sign that we have agreed terms. The Sharks are not moving to Moses, but we have a relationship with the city and we are open to playing games outside of the regulars over there,” he said.
“This game also offers a totally different opportunity for the city as there is a big drive for making this inclusive.”
Siseko Jafta, the Kwa¬Zulu-Natal Rugby Union general manager, said that as part of the activities, events were planned next week at township schools, and there would be an event where the two teams would mix and give back to the community.
For ticket information, including a joint ticket package for both the Sharks and Springboks matches, go to sharksrugby.co.za