Currie Cup

Tickets sold out for Kimberley's Currie Cup final: 'Can't recall playing at a full-house'

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Sango Xamlashe. (Photo by Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images)
Sango Xamlashe. (Photo by Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images)
  • Almost all of the Griquas and Pumas match-day members will experience their first sell-out crowd for the first time in their professional careers in Saturday's Currie Cup final.
  • Incidentally, it's also the first time that Griqua Park - formerly known as Hoffe Park - will be filled to capacity in its entire history.
  • Griquas coach Pieter Bergh is expecting an electric atmosphere, specifically because the ground is quite intimate in terms of seating.

In pandemic parlance, we talk about "Covid-19 babies", infants and toddlers born and initially raised within the confines of various lockdowns and only exposed to many outside activities recently.

Similarly, South African rugby will have a few "Covid-19 rookies" playing in Saturday's Currie Cup final in Kimberley, an occasion where almost all members of the Griquas and Pumas match squads will experience a sell-out crowd for the first time in their careers, partly down to government's stadium restrictions until recently.

Home skipper Sango Xamlashe is one of those men.

READ | Move over Liverpool! Griquas' 'mentality monsters' are roaring for the Currie Cup climax

"It's a great opportunity. I can't ever recall playing in front of a sell-out crowd and I'm sure a lot of the other guys here can relate," said the former Tuks and Bulls midfielder, who led his university side to 2021 Varsity Cup glory in a bio-secure environment.

"When the crowd is at full capacity at home, it's a dream for anybody. If someone had to say that this was how things were going to turn out at the beginning of the season, they would have been called bonkers."But we are here now. The moment and the occasion are slowly starting to present themselves. The guys are really showing great excitement. They are looking forward to it. A lot of the guys are seeing it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

With government's abolishment of bans on gatherings confirmed earlier this week, the 12 500-seater Griqua Park - but better known as Hoffe Park - is expected to be filled to capacity for the first time in its existence.

1970's showpiece - memorably won 11-9 by the Mannetjies Roux-inspired Peacock Blues over the much-fancied Northern Transvaal - was played at the De Beers Stadium, a hallowed, multi-purpose venue that Griquas relocated from in 1991.

READ | Pumas team unchanged for their first-ever Currie Cup final

Pieter Bergh, head coach of the hosts, is expecting a cracking atmosphere following Friday's official confirmation that all tickets have been sold, specifically because Griqua Park is a uniquely intimate venue.

"The people of Kimberley have really reacted to this. It's wonderful for the town and our supporters. I have met so many people over the last week who said they were at the 1970 final and never thought they would attend a Currie Cup final in Kimberley again," he said.

"It's wonderful for us. I think there will be seven guys from the 1970 team here for the game, which is very special. I don't think there has ever been a sell-out crowd here in Kimberley.

"What's wonderful about this stadium is that it will create a massive atmosphere. There will be about 12 000 people here. With how close people sit near the field, you're almost right on the field, where in some other stadiums you tend to be quite far. So, it will be an electric atmosphere."

Xamlashe believes this is due reward for Griquas' diehard supporters.

"It's a huge tribute to our fans as well. I think they deserve it. We are really excited to go out and give a performance that Kimberley can remember."   

Kick-off is at 15:00.

Teams:

Griquas

15 George Whitehead, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 Sango Xamlashe (captain), 12 Rynhardt Jonker, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Zander du Plessis, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Siba Qoma, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Werner Gouws, 5 Derik Pretorius, 4 Cameron Lindsay, 3 Janu Botha, 2 Janco Uys, 1 Kudzwai Dube

Substitutes: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Eddie Davids, 18 Andries Schutte, 19 Johan Retief, 20 Michael Amiras, 21 Johan Mulder, 22 Fiela Boshoff, 23 Chris Hollis

Pumas

15 Devon Williams, 14 Tapiwa Mafura, 13 Sebastian de Klerk, 12 Eddie Fouche, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Andre Fouche, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Shane Kirkwood, 4 Deon Slabbert, 3 Ig Prinsloo, 2 Eduan Swart, 1 Corne Fourie

Substitutes: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Dewald Maritz, 18 Simon Raw, 19 Kwanda Dimaza, 20 Francois Kleinhans, 21 Giovan Snyman, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Alwayno Visagie

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