Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Newlands DHL Rugby Stadium

Rugby at Newlands DHL Rugby Stadium

Located less than 1km away from Rondebosch Manor, and a very easy walk, Newlands Rugby Stadium has hosted 20 South African Test Matches since unification in 1992, with 14 out of the 20 matches going in favour of South Africa. During the 1995 RWC, Newlands hosted two matches not involving South Africa.

1992 SA vs Aus Lost 3 - 26
1994 SA vs Eng Won 27 - 9
1995 SA vs Australia Won 27 - 18
1995 SA vs Romania Won 21 - 8
1995 Australia 22 vs England 25
1995 England 29 vs New Zealand 45
1996 SA vs NZ Lost 18 - 29
1997 SA vs Tonga Won 74 -10
1997 SA vs British Isles Lost 16 - 25
1998 SA vs Eng Won 18 - 0
1999 SA vs Aus Won 10 - 9
2001 SA vs NZ Lost 3 - 12
2002 SA vs Wales Won 19 - 8
2003 SA vs Aus Won 26 - 22
2004 SA vs Ireland Won 26-17
2005 SA vs NZ Won 22-16
2006 SA vs France Lost 26 - 36
2007 SA vs Aus Won 22 - 19
2007 SA vs Namibia Won105 - 13
2008 SA vs Italy Won 26-0
2008 SA vs NZ Lost 0-19
2009 SA vs Aus Won 29-17

The first official matches were played at Newlands on Saturday 31 May 1890 when Villager and Stellenbosch met in such muddy conditions that the curtain-raiser between Bishops and Hamiltons had to be cancelled. The records show that the university side won by a goal to a try´ - the goal´ was described by the legendary Fairy Heatlle as the most remarkable dropped kick I have seen. The famous ground was to see many more such unforgettable moments.

Newlands as we see it today was purchased, constructed, demolished and finally re-developed at huge cost and commitment over the past century entirely by the efforts of dedicated members of the Western Province Rugby Football Union and its administrators - to whom this magnificent stadium is a fitting monument. And we must never forget those faithful supporters, who have followed the fortunes of their teams week in, week out in spite of often inclement weather.

Newlands is a fitting testament to those men and women who have supported and believed in not only the WPFRU but in the game of Rugby Football. The stadium, and the ground the stadium is built on, is owned by the WPRFU.

Featured in its history is the honour of hosting the opening match of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, where host nation South Africa upset the reigning world champions Australia 27-18, in what would be the beginning of a fairytale story that saw Springbok Captain Francois Pienaar lift the Webb Ellis trophy at Ellis Park at the end of the tournament. Coach Jake White and Captain John Smit returned to Newlands in 2007, in the final leg of the country-wide World Cup victory parade following the Boks´ triumphant Rugby World Cup tournament in France, to show off the Webb Ellis trophy to a near capacity Newlands Faithful, who had pitched at the ground to welcome the Boks back home.

In 2009 Newlands also hosted the British and Irish Lions in two non-test matches, when the Northern Hemisphere giants played Vodacom WP on 13 June and an Emerging Springbok outfit on 23 June. Both matches were well supported by both local and international fans, despite a typical wet and wintery Cape climate. The British and Irish Lions claimed victory a tightly contested match against the Blue and White Hoops of WP (23-26). A massive effort by the Emerging Springboks in the final quarter and a decisive conversion from the touchline in the 80th minute by Province´s Willem de Waal drew the scorers equal at 13-all in the stormy mid-week match.

Newlands has taken on various names over the years as the Western Province Rugby side took on different sponsors, such as Norwich and Fedsure, but today the name stands proudly alone thanks to the discretion of their previous two sponsors, Investec and Vodacom.

"We elected to change the name of the stadium to reflect its popular name rather than calling it Investec Newlands", Raymond van Niekerk, global head of group marketing at Investec said shortly after announcing the sponsorship.

"We've tried to adopt a unique approach to stadium naming and branding, " Van Niekerk said. "While the rich history, heritage and tradition of Newlands is retained, the commercial value inherent in the modern trend of selling stadium naming rights is preserved through the use of the Investec logo and typeface."

Rob Wagner, MD of WP Rugby commented: "Stadium naming rights sales have become lucrative and important elements of any sporting body's income streams. We are very happy with the way both Investec and Vodacom have opted to utilise their naming rights."

Newlands, home of Province and Stormers Rugby, has become world renowned for being the most supported teams in the modern game, regardless of log position - with its spectators now commonly known as “The Newlands Faithful”. In 2002, Newlands welcomed its millionth spectator, to watch a Stormers match, through the gates, with more than 2 million fans having come out to support the popular Super Rugby franchise over the past 12 years. In both 2008 and 2009, Newlands recorded a total annual attendance of more than 500 000 spectators, with an average of 17 rugby fixtures a year.

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