The crowd may be disappointing but the conditions at Ellis Park couldn’t be better for rugby.
The Johannesburg union boast the best record out of all the South African provinces in matches against the British & Irish Lions. It remains to be seen if Baywatch Grobelaar’s side can add to that success, but neither team could have asked for a better highveld evening. Despite the chill there isn’t a breath of wind and the sky is as clear as it’s been since the Lions’ initial arrival in Jo’burg on 25 May.
There’s been a lot of talk about the altitude factor, and some of the Lions’ players were out practicing their kicking earlier. He may not be playing in this fixture, but Welsh tighthead Adam Jones joined the kickers and delivered a few spiraling torpedoes of his own. The end-over-end kick wasn’t bad either, but I don’t suspect he’ll be wearing an extra ’1′ on his Test jersey anytime soon.
Some 25 000 tickets have been sold although to see the stadium at this stage is not to believe. The GLRU are hoping more spectators will make their way through once the evening’s traffic has cleared.
The Golden Lions have taken the field to warm up and as reported Earl Rose is not among them. It will be interesting to see how the locals approach this fixture. Will they play a more conservative game or attack from the outset?
By Jon Cardinelli, at Ellis Park