Why Newlands must be sold

Gasant Abarder doesn’t subscribe to former Springbok captain Wynand Claassen’s view that the iconic Newlands rugby ground needs to be saved or its memory cherished.

I cursed loudly (the benefits of having your own space) before turning to my phone to follow the updates. It made me wonder when last I’d been to a stadium to watch the Boks. There hadn’t actually been an opportunity at Newlands since rugby moved and then at the Cape Town Stadium for fans since the COVID-19 lockdown.

I am desperate to watch the Boks play a Test at the magnificent cauldron at the famous Table Bay. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen the Boks play at Newlands and googled it. What I found when I searched “Newlands” and “Springboks” instead was comedy gold. Or so I thought.

I checked the date to make sure it wasn’t April Fool’s Day. There was a story from some weeks ago about a chap I’d never heard of calling for the legacy of the Newlands Rugby Stadium to be preserved and turned into a museum because it had heritage status.

Are you kidding me? Whose legacy, nogal? And eintlik, who is Wynand Claassen anyway? I wouldn’t have taken it seriously but saw that Rapport had taken him seriously. And other publications and radio platforms too. I’m hearing there are clubs in the Western Province union that are actually considering the call.

The thing is, Wynand, I don’t recognize your legacy. You talk about playing at Newlands in 1981. That was when people who looked like me couldn’t enjoy all that the ground had to offer because of their skin colour. Our heroes couldn’t play there. For those who missed out, that will be a museum of pain and a reminder of what could have been but was so cruelly denied to a generation.

I don’t regard you as a real Springbok, pal. You were selected from a handful of South Africans privileged enough to be contenders for a then all-white national team. Real Springboks are chosen from a population of 60 million South Africans. I count Francois Pienaar, Kobus Wiese, Joel Stransky, John Smit, Bryan Habana, Percy Montgomery, Breyton Paulse, Siya Kolisi, Cheslin Kolbe, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi as real Springboks. And those are just a few of my favourites. You’re not one of them and will never be.

And the idea of ​​a museum is so ill-conceived if one considers that SARU spent millions on a rugby museum at the V&A Waterfront. How is that going? That’s right, it’s been shut down due to a lack of interest.

Just up the road from that defunct museum is the incredible, modern and picturesque Cape Town Stadium that is the new home of WP, the Stormers and the Boks. It has no Danie Craven Stand (the guy who famously said there will be black Springboks over his dead body) and it is way safer after Newlands fell far short of several spectator safety regulations.

Wynand, if you really want a proud legacy for Newlands you should encourage Western Province to leverage the asset so that the funds can be pumped back into rugby. The windfall will go into the very clubs whose generation of players were denied access to Newlands for so many years. Clubs like SK Walmers of the Bo-Kaap, Manenberg Rangers, Collegians of Mitchells Plain and Langa Rugby Club will stand to benefit the most.

The sale of Newlands for a much-needed business, social and other housing, education and retail hub will also benefit the city at large. It will put Western Province in the unique space of arguably being the most well-resourced rugby union in the world

What is a rugby legacy? Surely, it is the most representative Cape provincial side in rugby history winning an international trophy. The first time they’ve ever won a major trophy at a stadium, that is as much mine as it is yours, was when the Stormers won the URC trophy last season. At the white elephant, as you call it, Wynand. Rugby has moved on. So, should you.

*Gasant Abarder is the former editor of the Cape Times and Cape Argus and currently serves as the head of communications at the University of the Western Cape.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *