Wed 28 Jul 2021 | 09:39

Province motivated by Newlands return

Province motivated by Newlands return
Wed 28 Jul 2021 | 09:39
Province motivated by Newlands return
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INTERVIEW: Western Province will get two more chances to say farewell to Newlands, when they host the Bulls and Cheetahs in the next two weekends.

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Their Currie Cup Round Eight and Nine matches have been formally moved from the Cape Town Stadium to Newlands – in order to preserve the playing surface of the Greenpoint venue.

The decision to host the second and third Tests between South African and the British and Irish Lions at the purpose-built Cape Town venue is at the heart of the unexpected double bonus for the famous Newlands ground.

The Greenpoint turf cut up badly in the opening Test last Saturday, a 22-17 win by the B&I Lions.

It was clear that the Cape Town Stadium pitch would not be able to survive the rigours of four first-class matches on back-to-back weekends, resulting in the Currie Cup fixtures being moved to Newlands.

WP will host their arch-rivals the Bulls in a Round Eight match this Friday and the Cheetahs in a Round Nine match a week later.

Province coach John Dobson said they are delighted with the opportunity to run out on the hallowed Newlands turf again.

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“We never thought we would get an opportunity to play again at Newlands,” he told @rugby365com.

“Everybody’s dream was to have a great occasion and a big crowd to say farewell to Newlands,” Dobson said.

“The way we ended there wasn’t great,” the coach said of their 9–19 loss to the Sharks in the 2020/21 semifinal back in January – before the move to the Cape Town Stadium.

“That was not the way we wanted to leave Newlands,” Dobson said, adding: “We have another opportunity.”

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While they will play in an empty stadium, as part of the COVID-19 protocols, they still plan to make it a special occasion.

“The ideal would have been to have a big crowd watch us, but that is beyond our control.

“Hopefully in the next week or two, while we play there, we produce performances more fitting to saying goodbye to the grand old dame that we are all so attached to.

“For the players, it is great to be back there – with all its nostalgia and memories.

“The place is still very special to us and we train there from time to time.

“We must make use of this opportunity to leave on a better mote than we did in January.

“In these times of uncertainty, you never know what comes up in the future. However, we are approaching it as our last couple of games at Newlands.”

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* Meanwhile Dobson dismissed social media reports that former Western Force and Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels has been appointed as a ‘consultant’ with WP.

The social media grapevine was abuzz when Wessels, a former University of Cape Town assistant, was spotted at Province training.

“Absolutely not true,” was Dobson’s curt answer, when quizzed about the rumours.

The Province coach pointed out that Wessels helped South Africa’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus when the latter was the Stormers coach years ago.

Wessels has returned to his roots in Cape Town, where lives, after ending his stint at the Rebels mid-season.

“We had a chat about what we are doing and he told us some of the stuff he is doing,” Dobson told @rugby365com.

“He has a very sharp technical mind.

“However, Dave [Wessels] is not involved with us in any capacity. He just popped in to see what we are doing.

“It is very much part of the rugby coaching culture to visit other organisations and share ideas.

“Information sharing is one of the big currencies of the game. We at WP are very open to that.

“Local coaches and anyone who wants to share and enjoy learning opportunities are welcome to contact me and visit.

“Some do already and we have never said no to anybody.”

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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