Bulls v Chiefs, Saturday 29th March 2014, 3pm

1 - opening shot

Despite the rugby season being well underway these days, I’ve been trying to prioritise football and cricket. Mainly because I prefer them, but also because I can save the rugby games for the winter when the other two sports are taking a break.

At the weekend though, I’d spotted that the Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria was hosting games on consecutive days, with a Super Rugby match on Saturday afternoon and then a Premier League football game on the Sunday. Pretoria is only about three quarters of an hour drive from where Jen and I live, but I booked us into a hotel close to the ground so that I could have a few scoops during the rugby.

See, two games.

See, two games.

It was an easy enough walk to the stadium from the hotel and despite all the scare stories that I’ve heard about wandering around in Pretoria it seemed safe enough. A few of the locals were renting out their drives for parking, others, perhaps not so local, were charging for guiding cars onto any available bit of land and then ‘looking after them’.

There were plenty of stalls selling food,mainly steak and burgers, whilst the main access road to the stadium had a variety of stands selling Bulls merchandise. Hats with cow horns on seemed a popular item.

Plenty of flags and shirts too.

Plenty of flags and shirts too.

I’d heard from a fella at work that there were restrictions on drinking in your seat at the rugby, but I remembered that when I was at the Ellis Park game last year that there were people in a posh section in front of us who seemed to be consuming an unlimited supply of beer throughout the game. With that in mind I booked seats in the most expensive part of the ground, paying 450 rand a pop compared to the 70 to 150 rand everywhere else.

We got into the stadium an hour or so before kick-off and it turned out our seats weren’t so special after all, they were close to the tunnel but weren’t sectioned off or anything. Two rows back or a few seats along we could have had a similar view for a third of the price.

The view from the not so cheap seats.

The view from the not so cheap seats.

At that point we headed off to the bar only to be told that not only could we not drink in our seats, we couldn’t drink anywhere in the stadium. How could that be right?. It’s rugby, you are meant to watch it with a pint in your hand. And so to recap. I’d booked a hotel room for the night to avoid having to drive and then paid three times over the odds for my seat only to be sat drinking Coke. Wonderful.

Loftus Versfeld is quite an old stadium, dating back about a hundred years, but with plenty of modifications over that time, notably a few dozen executive boxes, which you won’t be surprised to hear were packed with people partying. Gits.

You can see some of those boxes in the background.

You can see some of those boxes in the background.

The first half was pretty tight with the Chiefs going in at the break just a single point ahead. Star of the show was Bulls lock Victor Matfield who, after two years in retirement, has taken up playing again. It will be interesting to see if he regains his Springbok spot.

In the second half the Bulls put a bit of pressure on the visitors and with five minutes left were a comfortable twelve points ahead. It wasn’t enough though and a couple of tries, the last of which was converted from the touchline with the final kick of the game, enabled the Chiefs to snatch an unexpected draw.

Chiefs on the attack.

Chiefs on the attack.

There was better news on the beer front as when we left the ground we discovered a field with a bar in it. I made up for the lack of drink inside the stadium by having a few cans as we listened to some 70’s tribute band blasting out Lynyrd Skynyrd and Creedence Clearwater Revival hits.

If they’d played anything by Mott The Hoople it would have pipped that ELO tribute act from a couple of months ago to gig of the year so far. They didn’t and so found themselves in second and last place.

Finally, a beer.

Finally, a beer.

So, lessons learned. Turn up early next time, drink outside and then buy a seventy rand ticket for the East Stand, which is the one closest to the bar in the field.

 

 

One Response to “Bulls v Chiefs, Saturday 29th March 2014, 3pm”

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