Super Rugby

An empty Loftus: How the four Super Rugby captains reacted

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Artificial crowd during the Super Fan Saturday match between Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on September 26, 2020 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
Artificial crowd during the Super Fan Saturday match between Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on September 26, 2020 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Perhaps the sheer novelty of seeing competitive rugby being played again helped but by the end of Super Fan Saturday, the lack of supporters at Loftus was almost forgotten for viewers.

From an outsider's perspective, it also seemed as if the players adapted reasonably well too.

But South Africa's four Super Rugby captains clearly noted a common trend: the experience was "different".

Here's what each of them had to say.

SIYA KOLISI (STORMERS)

When we warmed-up, some of us still felt like we were training until we started feeling the lungs and thought: “Ja, ons is tog op Loftus vandag!”. 

It was very tough.

Even when you play away, you miss those chats with the fans, the little bit of banter when you sit on the bench. 

But it also reminds you also that you should never take for granted how important supporters are and how special it is to have them.

It was also good because it was neutral ground for all the teams.   

DUANE VERMEULEN (BULLS)

Beforehand, we say to ourselves that we must just focus on what we need to do and not worry about anything else.

But I must say, it was a different feeling walking out and you don’t really hear any type of noise. 

There’s nothing in the stands. You can really hear a penny drop if somebody actually did. It’s a bit of a change.

An atmosphere does make it nicer to play and charges you up, gives you energy. Now you can even hear the coaches shouting at you from the box!

You know exactly where you need to be and what you need to do. For us, it was just about executing on focusing on ourselves.

ELTON JANTJIES (LIONS)

We prepared for it mentally and when we ran out to do some practice drills, we sort of got used to the atmosphere.

It certainly was different and that places added responsibility on our shoulders to feed off each other’s energy and to communicate effectively.

This is how rugby is going to be for the foreseeable future and we’ve accepted it.

It was actually nice to be even more dependent on each other. It helps you to bond.

LUKHANYO AM (SHARKS)

It was a different experience but that didn’t really matter to us because we were really excited to be back and playing again. 

Things on the rugby side didn’t go our way but we’re really just happy to be back on the park.

- Compiled by Heinz Schenk
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24