Lions Newlands snub disappoints de Villiers

Super 14 Stormers captain and Springbok Jean de Villiers has expressed his disappointment at his home stadium Newlands not being given a British & Irish Lions Test for next year’s tour starting at the end of May.

“It is disappointing that there won’t be a Newlands Test,” he told the Cape Times.

“I hope to face them at Newlands for Western Province in the tour match, if I am picked. Also, many of the World Cup Boks stayed behind to continue playing in South Africa because of the Lions series, so it will be a fantastic tour.”

SA Rugby managing director Jonathan Stones said at a press conference on Thursday that Newlands’s vast amount of standing room was a factor in not awarding the venue a Lions Test.

The Lions however have their first test on June the 20th at Durban’s Absa Stadium the second Test at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria a week later and the final Test at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on July 4.

“There was an extraordinary amount of debate about Newlands. We know of the tradition of the venue.

“But issues such as logistics, location and seating configuration were determining factors,” said Stones.

“Newlands has more standing room than the other venues. But please remember that this decision was not imposed on Western Province.

Rob Wagner (WP Rugby managing director) was part of the process and he knows exactly why we have reached this conclusion.

“We have certain guarantees which we have to meet for the Lions fans, such as the 11 000 tickets allocated to them for each Test. There are just not enough seats at Newlands.”

Wagner told the Cape Times that Newlands could not meet the demands of hosting a Lions Test.

“The facts are clear. There was an X amount of seats demanded for the Lions fans and they wanted more hospitality areas available.

“But, with the amount of season ticket holders and private suite holders that we have, we could not meet the demand,” he said.

“But we have got a provincial match and an Emerging Springbok game, as well as a Tri-Nations Test against Australia next year.”

Newlands will host the Lions on Saturday June 13 2008, when they play Western Province, and also on Tuesday, June 23, against an Emerging Springbok team.

“The Emerging Springbok game is already like a fourth Test. We can also rebuild the reserves of SA Rugby and we do have numbers in mind and they look exciting.

“This is a unique opportunity to spread the game and optimise (financial) opportunities. But we have also ensured that as many players as possible get an opportunity to face the Lions.”   


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