Loftus Versfeld - iconic landmark
LOFTUS Versfeld Stadium was first used for sports in 1906. It was used for rugby beginning in 1908, when the site was known as the Eastern Sports Ground. The stadium was later renamed after Robert Loftus Owen Versfeld, the founder of organised sports in Pretoria, who dedicated many years of his life to rugby union.
During the 1920s the Pretoria Subunion had not foreseen the growing need for fields, but in the first part of that decade, the Sub-union, in co-operation with the Municipality, systematically put their existing rugby fields under kikuyu.
University and Boys’ High followed their example in 1923, so that there were seven grass fields available in that year.
The Railway Institute field at Berea Park was similarly grassed in 1924. At the end of 1928 there were ten grass fields in Pretoria.
The Pretoria Sub-union also wished to improve the facilities at the Eastern Sports Ground. In 1923 the City Council commenced the building of a concrete stand which could accommodate 2 000 spectators. At the end of 1928, mainly as a result of the All Blacks tour, the Subunion could show a record financial gain and used the profits to erect the changing-rooms and toilets they had waited for, for so long. When Mr. Loftus Versfeld died suddenly in May 1932, the Sub-union paid the fitting tribute of renaming the Eastern Sports Grounds. From then on, it was to be known as Loftus Versfeld.
The phenomenal growth of rugby was accompanied by a dearth of playing fields. Apart from the 3 605 pupils who played rugby in 1937, there were 2 202 senior players actively involved. As early as 1934 the Pretoria Sub-union was unable to provide enough fields to satisfy the needs of the schools. The prospect of two additional municipal fields being laid out on the racecourse had not materialised by March 1936.
During 1937 the Municipality laid out another field at Loftus Versfeld, while the Sub-union was granted the use of a field at Schoolplaats on the corner of Schubart and Boom Streets, which was used mainly for school rugby. By offering the use of their fields, the Police Sports Club, the University and the Railway Institute helped to alleviate the shortage of fields.
The Eastern Sports grounds were initiated on 18 April 1914. The N.T.R.U (Northern Transvaal Rugby Union) now B.B.R.U (Blue Bulls Rugby Union) was initiated in 1938.
Here is a list of important dates and historic occasions:
• 1906: Area first used as sports field. • 1914: Fields got initiated as Eastern
• 1923: First concrete structure – accommodating 2000 spectators.
• 1928: Changing rooms and toilets
• 1932: Mr. Loftus Versfeld died. Stadium renamed to Loftus Versfeld.
• 1938: Northern Transvaal Rugby
Union was initiated.
• 1946: First Currie Cup victory at Loftus for Northern Transvaal
• 1948: On-going improvements on
• 1972: Upper Eastern Pavilion added. • 1974: Lower Southern Pavilion construction.
• 1977: Main Pavilion construction. • 1984: Northern Pavilion under construction.
• 1989: Southern Pavilion renovated
(just as it is today).
• 1994: Nelson Mandela present at England vs South Africa Test Match
• 1995: Eastern Pavilion renovated
(just as it is today).
• 1995: One of the official Rugby
World Cup stadiums.
• 1997: Northern Transvaal Rugby Union name changed to Blue Bulls Rugby Union.
• 1998: Minolta became official sponsor – Stadium renamed: Minolta Loftus.
• 2003: Securicor became official sponsor – Stadium renamed: Securicor Loftus.
• 2005: Vodacom became official sponsor – Stadium renamed back to Loftus Versfeld.
• 2008: Major improvements done for
2010 FIFA World Cup
• 2009: Loftus Versfeld hosted the Super Rugby Final – Bulls won the Match against Chiefs (New Zealand).
• 2010: One of venues for the official
FIFA World Cup stadiums. Today Loftus Versfeld can house 50 000 spectators
Stadium name changes
The Stadium has gone through a variety of name changes, especially due to sponsorships:
• 1914: Eastern Sportsground
• 1934: Loftus Versfeld
• 1998: Minolta Loftus
• 2003: Securicor Loftus
• 2005: back to Loftus Versfeld Stadium when Vodacom became the major sponsor of the stadium
On 1 September 2005 Vodacom returned the Stadium to the team and its fans.