Super Rugby

'Fizzling' Newlands farewell a concern for Stormers

One of the most iconic venues in South African rugby history, Newlands is threatening to limp towards the finish line. 

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The stadium, which boasts a stunning 130-year history, is in its final season before a likely demolition and an almost certain move to Cape Town Stadium for Western Province and the Stormers. 

Super Rugby 2020 represented one final opportunity for the Stormers and Cape Town to say goodbye to the stadium coach John Dobson calls the "great old lady of South African rugby."

Before the start of the season, Dobson and the Stormers were using Newlands as their primary motivation. They wanted to go the distance in Super Rugby to pay their respects to the people that have occupied the Newlands seats for decades. 

"There is going to be a lot of emotion for them, but it has to work in our favour," Dobson said at the time.

"We absolutely love Newlands. There is only one real way to say farewell."

Now, after just seven rounds of fixtures, Super Rugby 2020 could be done and dusted as the coronavirus crisis leaves the sporting world in limbo. 

Dobson and his players remain hopeful that they will get back on the park - Super Rugby 2020 would likely start from scratch in a shortened format if that was the case - but Newlands standing empty in its final season is causing the franchise some concern. 

"It is a source of anxiety for us," Dobson acknowledged on Wednesday.

"With the Currie Cup format as it was published, we play the Sharks, Griquas and Cheetahs at home in that Currie Cup format. It's not a great way to say goodbye to Newlands.

"The Newlands fizzle is a source of concern."

If Super Rugby is completely scrapped, then the 2020 edition of the Currie Cup could be the next domestic rugby South Africans have. 

One positive spin-off could potentially be the public, who would have been starved of sport for months, attending matches again. 

"If we did get back on the field in a month or two, I would think there would have to be something around Super Rugby just because of the rights and sponsors. After that I think you could play a brilliant Currie Cup," Dobson said.

"I think the most important thing for rugby is to reset and use this time to put people back in the stadium.

"Currie Cup, if the Springboks are playing and given the absence of rugby, could work.

"I know SA Rugby have task teams and it's being worked on, but I think it's important for the national psyche once there is some kind of normality that, if you can, get guys in closed stadiums who have isolated before in a safe environment.

"It would be great for the people to have something to look forward to on a Saturday."

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