Sun­day scrums on the way for lo­cal rugby fans

CityPress - - Sport - SIMNIKIWE XABANISA sport@city­

The Su­per­Sport Rugby Chal­lenge will bring the novel con­cept of Sun­day rugby to South African au­di­ences.

With the Gold Cup club rugby com­pe­ti­tion hav­ing al­ready gen­tly in­tro­duced lo­cal fans to rugby on what is usu­ally a rest day for lo­cal play­ers, the Rugby Chal­lenge – through its five fes­ti­vals dur­ing the round-robin stages and three in the knock­out phases – is aimed at en­trench­ing the idea.

Kelvin Watt, the ex­ec­u­tive chair of sports in­tel­li­gence firm Repu­com, said play­ing games on Sun­days in­stead of on al­ready con­gested Satur­days could well be the way for­ward in the bat­tle to beef up sta­dium at­ten­dance and TV rat­ings.

“It’s a fan­tas­tic idea and ideal for fam­i­lies. SA Rugby should try it with Su­per Rugby. TV fig­ures for sport on Sun­day are very solid,” he said.

“Satur­days have be­come so busy for peo­ple with kids that Sun­days have be­come a good fam­ily day for sport and en­ter­tain­ment.”

The first teams to put Watt’s the­ory to the test will be East­ern Prov­ince and Western Prov­ince in this week­end’s fes­ti­val at the Isaac Wolf­son Sta­dium in Kwaza­kele, out­side Port El­iz­a­beth. Bor­der, Boland and club sides African Bombers and PE Har­lequins will com­plete the fix­ture list.

While it’s great for com­mer­cial im­per­a­tives, mov­ing a few games to Sun­day has practical im­pli­ca­tions for the play­ers, who would nor­mally be re­cov­er­ing from post-match cel­e­bra­tions the night be­fore.

But Bor­der Bull­dogs coach David Do­bela doesn’t an­tic­i­pate it be­ing a prob­lem at all.

“I come from a Sun­day league background, so it shouldn’t be a prob­lem for us. Even though we’ve be­come used to hav­ing a break, it’s just a case of ad­just­ment.”

A few South African sports­men, no­tably ham­mer thrower Chris Harmse, are op­posed to par­tic­i­pat­ing in sport on Sun­days on reli­gious grounds.

Harmse’s stand is un­der­stood to have cost him a few Olympic and World Cham­pi­onship medals.

Naas Botha, who used to fly to Italy to play on Sun­day af­ter turn­ing out for Northern Transvaal and who played in the NFL for the Dal­las Cow­boys on Sun­days, doesn’t see what the fuss is about.

“Life has moved on, but in­di­vid­u­als need to make a call,” he said. “Ian Jones did in New Zealand and the All Blacks ac­com­mo­dated him.

“I got into trouble with my church when I was play­ing in the US in 1983. But aren’t we pro­mot­ing ‘Sun­day Christians’ with this view? I thought you were sup­posed to be a Chris­tian every day.”

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