WP back CT Stadium to host Sevens

Date published: March 21 2015

The Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) says it is not upset by Cape Town Stadium’s selection as the venue for the South African leg of the World Sevens Series.

Cape Town Stadium was announced as the host venue for the tournament, which took place in Port Elizabeth from 2011 to 2014, on Friday.

The WPRFU and the City of Cape Town have previously clashed about rugby matches being hosted at the Green Point venue, which the City owns, instead of Newlands, which the union owns.

In 2011, the Union objected to the City hosting a Heineken Cup match between English club Saracens and French side Biarritz, which resulted in the match being played in London instead.

Thelo Wakfield, president of the WPRFU, said the union was a key player in the Stadium’s selection this time.

“We initiated the move," he revealed.

"We recommended Cape Town Stadium. Right from the start, we were instrumental in having the tournament at the Cape Town Stadium and there is a very good reason for that.

“The stadium has a lot more facilities logistically. There is Hamiltons rugby club and other open spaces nearby when teams can warm up.

“We wanted to create a festival atmosphere. We came together and as collective we decided to recommend to SARU that the games take place at Cape Town Stadium.”

The City and WPFRU spent over a year locked in negotiations to have the Stormers and Western Province move from Newlands to Cape Town Stadium, only for the union to announce in December 2014 that it would be staying at its traditional home – much to the delight of sports betting purists.

At the time, Wakefield stated that it would not be open to negotiations with the City for the foreseeable future. However, Patricia de Lille, Cape Town’s mayor, said she still hoped the move was possible.

“We are still saddened by the fact that the Western Province Rugby Union has decided not to make the stadium their own, but I can assure you that we have not given up hope and we are keeping the door open,” she said.

“In the meantime, we have always had plan B to commercialize the stadium and bring in other events and ensure we break even in terms of the operation costs.

"This event is helping us with that and we will continue talking to Western Province.”

De Lille also denied that the WPRFU played an integral role in seeing the Sevens World Series rights awarded to Cape Town Stadium, saying that the union was “indirectly involved” as a Saru affiliate.

By Liam Moses