Rugby fans worldwide beware, as Springbok heritage is about to be bulldozed.
Last Friday in Johannesburg Danny Jordaan CEO of the local organising committee of the 2010 FIFA World Cup stated that the oldest rugby test ground Newlands in Cape Town, which was built in 1890 will be demolished following the World Cup next year.
Other stadia to go after the World Cup are ABSA Park – previously Kings Park – in Durban and Boet Erasmus stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Jordaan was quoted in the South African media as saying that the lifecycle of a stadium is 50-70 years and he believes that these stadia are reaching the end of their lives.
What would be nice to see is modernisation with respect for the history. Two stadia that spring to mind are Lords in London and the football stadium in Liepzig in Germany. Here the façade was maintained and they dug out the centre of the old stadium and inserted a new one. It is a fantastic venue. Lords too has maintained the history while moving into the 21st century.
We are too quick to pull down the old and throw it away. There is a lot of history at these stadia and it would be a shame to see them go. Although one argument being bandied about is that South Africa will need to do this to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
This is an unlikely argument as very few rugby playing nations have the facilities to host such a tournament, South Africa happens to be one that has the facilities and can already host it.
Jordaan stated that if Newlands and Absa stadiums are demolished, it would not be the first time that iconic rugby stadiums have been bulldozed. He referred to Ireland where in 2007 Lansdowne Road stadium in Dublin, Ireland, which hosted its first international rugby match in 1878, was demolished to make way for the Aviva Stadium, due to open in 2010. Lansdowne Road was the oldest test ground prior to Newlands taking the title. But the history of Rugby, dare I say it, runs a lot deeper in South Africa than the emerald isle and there is bound to be a backlash to these plans.