Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rugby 2010

If you recall, Betsy sent out a blast last month on our experiences learning about Cricket. The game was new to us and we’ve begun to enjoy its subtleties. In the hope of a similar experience, we attended a Rugby match last Saturday. Part of the incentive for us to do this was the venue – the new Cape Town Stadium. You can see the stadium in the picture. It is part of the infrastructure development effort coming online in time for the World Cup this June and July. I cannot imagine a more beautiful location.

The rugby match was the second event to be held in the new stadium. It was to be an additional test for the overall management of the event. You can only imagine the scale of needs for training, transportation, parking, security, food service, ticketing, housekeeping, etc.

For the first event, a soccer match, 20,000 tickets were sold for the 68,000 seat stadium. Seating was available for the first deck only. Our rugby match increased the tickets to 40,000 on two decks and proportionately increased the challenges.

The stadium facilities are quite lovely, although there remain some issues with food and beverage queuing. The field is open, not a problem in this beautiful climate. Construction continues on the third deck. We talked to friends who had seats in the sun – they needed more sunscreen.

We noticed three helicopters in a nearby area while walking into the stadium. One was police, the others were medical. We thought that was nice – preparing for emergency situations among the crowd. Right! The medical choppers were for the rugby players.

I was a bit shocked at the violence of the game. Think of when you were watching the recent Super Bowl. Take away all of the padding. Take away the forward pass. Take away the TV timeouts.

There are two ways to advance the ball: run and kick. Most of the running also involved tossing the ball in a lateral (or behind) direction to another runner and then continuing forward until tackled. Then a big pile of bodies is formed (a ruck, a maul, or a scrum), the ball emerges and the run/kick process repeats.

I forgot the opening ceremony. Politicians are the same world-wide. Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape, was one of two speakers welcoming us to the new stadium. She is a very efficient politician and it was nice to get to hear her in person.

Our conclusions:
 We’ll continue going to Cricket matches.
 We’ll probably not attend any more Rugby.
 The Cape Town Stadium is a terrific venue – will be a terrific venue – in time for the World Cup.
 Post-event traffic is a nightmare and must be addressed, particularly since 68,000 fans will be dramatically more difficult to manage than our 40,000.
 It has been a worthwhile experience and the price was right (about $9)

That’s what we’re about – new experiences.

Floyd & Betsy – grandparents to be