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VIDEO: Will the Bulls head to Soweto again?

In 2010 the Bulls pulled off one of the most successful PR stunts – taking their Super Rugby semifinal and Final games to the Orlando Stadium.

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The reason was that their home ground, Loftus Versfeld, was being prepared for the soccer World Cup – hosted by South Africa.

The iconic scenes of Bulls fans invading the streets of Soweto, socialising with locals before and after the game, and the deafening noise of thousands of vuvuzelas resonates around the globe more than a decade later.

It also won the Bulls thousands of new fans.

In about a fortnight, the Bulls may head back to Soweto, but only #IF they host the Final.

Their home ground has been pre-booked for another major event and the Bulls tournament organisers are already scrambling for an alternative venue.

However, there are many ‘ifs!’

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First, the Bulls must qualify for the Final.

They play Italian franchise Benetton at Loftus this coming Saturday, then could host Leinster or Ulster in the semifinal.

On the other side of the draw table-topping and defending champions Munster hosts Osprey, with the winner facing either Glasgow Warriors or the Stormers.

The Bulls will only host the Final if Munster stumbles in the quarterfinal or semifinal.

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However, URC bosses are not leaving anything to chance.

United Rugby Championship Chief Executive Martin Anayi admitted they know of the ‘prior booking’ – the presidential inauguration, scheduled for the iconic Pretoria stadium on June 22.

“We are planning, as we always do, for a potential Final in many different locations,” Anayi told a media round table ahead of the URC quarterfinals this coming weekend.

The URC regulations determine that the highest-ranked team in any play-off match gets to host the game.

“We could potentially be in four places – perhaps even more,” the URC boss said.

“We have planned for that.

“We have planned for the game not to be played at Loftus,” he said, adding: “We are planning to take it to a different venue.”

Four potential venues have been listed for a Final hosted by the Bulls – two of them in Soweto.

The Orlando Stadium (Soweto) is again an option, but the new frontrunner is the 90,000-seater Soccer City (Soweto).

The Bulls also have links with the local soccer side Mamelodi Sundowns, owned by one of their equity partners Patrice Motsepe – which means the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville is an option

However, the capacity is only 29,000.

There is also the 62,000-seater Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

(WATCH as Martin Anayi, CEO of the URC, speaks about the ‘contingency plans’ in place because the Bulls are unable to host a potential Final at Loftus Versfeld….)

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* Meanwhile Anayi revealed that audiences across the board is still on the rise, as the URC continues its meteoric progression.

“We have been tracking up on the metrics and keeping a key eye on,” he told a media round table ahead of this coming weekend’s quarterfinals, adding that they break things down by territory across the board.

“Focusing on audience growth – across social media, broadcast and ultimately bums on seats.

“Those are the key metrics and we have been working super hard with the teams to show growth and healthy competition and it appears to be working,” he added.

“Our broadcast audience is up 49 percent globally, and in the UK and Ireland, it is up 24 percent.

“Attendances are up 67 percent on last year’s record accumulative audience.

“Social media is also up, and we are fourth [largest] globally on YouTube when it comes to rugby competitions, and that includes the NRL.

“What it shows is there are more eyeballs on the URC and as a result of that more eyeballs on our teams and individual brands.

“That helps them to become more sustainable in their own right.

“Our database provides a good barometer of how many people are engaging.

“We’ve gone into it in depth and have found that it is up 116 percent from when we started the URC [from the PRO14].”

He suggested the rising numbers indicate the growth of the competition.

“There has been a year-on-year rise and last year’s 34.9 million accumulative audience has already been surpassed and that is before we’ve even seen the figures from Round 18.

“There has been growth right across the competition – not just South Africa – and across the territories.”

@king365ed
@rugby365com

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