Newlands and not the Cape Town Stadium will host the European Cup match between Saracens and Biarritz.
Ticket sales have already started for the match on 14th January, with the designated venue being the modern 60 000-setter stadium in Greenpoint, Cape Town. The fixture was widely expected to sell out, with locals and foreign visitors (it is the height of the tourist season) expected to file in for the unique event.
However, the Western Province Rugby Union have intervened and successfully challenged for the hosting rights. This continues an alarming drought of high-profile sporting fixtures for the stadium, which is increasingly becoming a serious financial burden for the city.
WP pointed to the South African Rugby Union constitution’s ruling that the the final decision regarding the match venue lies in the hands of the host union. WP and not Saracens are deemed to be the hosts.
In a statement WP said: ‘ After a recent meeting by the Western Province Rugby Football Union Executive Committee, the request by Saracens to host the match at Cape Town Stadium was considered. However, the Executive Committee decided that the home of rugby, Newlands, would stage this historic match.
‘According to the South African Rugby Union Constitution the final decision regarding the match venue lies in the hands of the host union. The WPRFU Executive Committee unanimously agreed that Newlands is currently the home of rugby in the Western Province, and will be treated as such for the foreseeable future. The Western Province Rugby Football Union embraces such a historic match which will form part of the busy 2012 Super Rugby and Test Match schedule at Newlands.’
Meanwhile Saracens issued a carefully worded statement that read: ‘Saracens has noted today’s statement by the Western Province Rugby Union. We are delighted that two world class venues in Cape Town both want to stage the historic Heineken Cup match between Saracens and Biarritz on Saturday January 14. We will now continue detailed discussions with all parties.’
WP also moved to end the ongoing speculation about a potential move to the Cape Town Stadium. ‘There is currently no intention to move WP Rugby to the Cape Town stadium,’ they said.