Rugby chiefs welcome capacity crowds: 70% of tickets already sold for Ellis Park's All Blacks Test

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Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk kicks against the All Blacks.
Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk kicks against the All Blacks.
Chris Hyde/Getty Images
  • Capacity crowds are now allowed across South Africa's sports stadiums after government repealed limitations on public events.
  • The decision has been welcomed by the country's rugby bosses.
  • Ellis Park has already sold 70% of its tickets for the Springboks v All Blacks Test, Sport24 understands.

Saturday's Currie Cup final and the Springboks' home Tests in 2022 look set for capacity crowds, with relevant hosting unions ramping up their efforts to sell as many tickets as possible.

This comes after the South African government repealed limitations on public events and gatherings.

The country's health minister, Joe Phaahla, published the latest amendments in the Government Gazette on Wednesday evening.

In addition to doing away with the limitations on public events, government also repealed rules over wearing masks.

Phaahla's decision follows a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council, which weighed in on whether the remaining Covid-19 regulations were still relevant. Phaahla and Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, will further brief the nation at 11:00 on Thursday.

The news will likely see Saturday's Currie Cup final between Griquas and the Pumas played in front of a capacity crowd in Kimberley.

It will also mean the Springboks can tackle Wales in next month's three-Test series in front of packed stadiums, as well as the Rugby Championship Tests later in the year against New Zealand and Argentina.

The relevant hosting unions were unanimous in expressing their relief and excitement.

"Local rugby is still firmly in its survival phase after the brunt of the pandemic in terms of finances," Pieter Burger, MD of Ellis Park, told Sport24.

"We're by no means out of the woods, but this is a brilliant start. I'm not just happy for us at the Lions, but our counterparts too."

Marius van Rensburg, chief executive of the Pumas, similarly noted that every rugby administrator "woke up in happier mood" on Thursday morning.

"We can now fully focus on delivering one of the biggest sporting events to hit Nelspruit in years."

For the Bulls and Cheetahs, hosts of the first and second Tests respectively against Wales next month, the joy is tempered a little bit by having to ramp up their ticket sales within the next 10 days.

Both Edgar Rathbone and Ross van Reenen, chiefs of the two unions, highlighted that the timing of government's announcement has added urgency to those efforts.

All unions were officially only allowed to sell 50% of all available tickets up to Wednesday night yet those numbers are now already increasing.

Loftus is expected to be closer to 60% by the end of the week due to the Bulls having made the provision of putting supporters that didn't make the 50% cut-off on a waiting list.

Ellis Park, by contrast, sold tickets with the assumption that regulations would be relaxed by the time of its All Blacks Test in August.

Sport24 understands that figure stands at 70% already.

In recent months, South Africa's stadiums were only allowed to be at 50% capacity, with 31 000 fans attending last Saturday's United Rugby Championship final between the Stormers and Bulls in Cape Town.

Springbok fixtures as SA kick-off times:

Incoming Tour:

17:05 - Saturday, 2 July: Springboks v Wales (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)

17:05 - Saturday, 9 July: Springboks v Wales (Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein)

17:05 - Saturday, 16 July - Springboks v Wales (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)

Rugby Championship:

17:05 - Saturday, 6 August: Springboks v All Blacks (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit)

17:05 - Saturday, 13 August: Springboks v All Blacks (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)

TBC: Saturday, 27 August: Australia v Springboks (Adelaide Oval, Adelaide)

TBC: Saturday, 3 September: Australia v Springboks (Allianz Stadium, Sydney)

21:10 - Saturday, 17 September: Argentina v Springboks (Estadio Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires)

17:05 - Saturday, 24 September: Springboks v Argentina (Kings Park, Durban)

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