By Mark Keohane Time of article publishedSep 13, 2020

Share this article:

CAPE TOWN – The Cape Town Stadium will be sold out for the British & Irish Lions tour opener on 3rd July against the DHL Stormers. The Lions second Test against the Springboks at the Cape Town Stadium will also be a sell-out.

Early indications from the Ticket Ballot applications are that the two Cape Town matches are heavily oversubscribed, which was what the Tour organisers anticipated.

Rugby has always been well supported in the Western Cape and the Stormers, historically, have always averaged the highest home crowd match attendance over the last two decades.

The Stormers will create history in playing the tourists at the Cape Town Stadium, which is a departure from previous Lions matches in Cape Town. These were held at the ‘grand old lady’ of South African rugby stadiums, Newlands.

The Lions will be the first international team to play a rugby match at the Cape Town Stadium, which from 2021 will be the new home of Western Province and Stormers rugby. It will also be the first time the Stormers (and not Western Province) play the British & Irish Lions.

The Cape Town Stadium last really rocked in sustained spectator support during the 2010 Soccer FIFA World Cup and the Lions Tour organisers expect to see a similar carnival atmosphere for the two Lions matches in Cape Town in 2021.

The Ticket Ballot opened on September 2 and closes at 23.59 this Wednesday September 16. The way the Ticket Ballot system, operated by global elite events heavyweight Ticketmaster, works is that everyone who puts in a ticket request has an equal crack at being successful. It is not a ‘first come, first serve’ situation and local supporters still have until the ballot closing to apply for tickets.

The Ticket Ballot system, used for all elite sporting events around the world, was also used for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. It is seen as the fairest system in allocating ticket requests.

Tour organisers confirmed that in the first week of the ballot, ticket requests from SA residents had totaled 235 000, while 230 000 users had visited the South African official tour site

SA Rugby CE Jurie Roux urged locals to invest in the five non-Test matches because of the heavy oversubscription of the three Test matches between the world champion Springboks and the British & Irish Lions.

“We have ensured that there are more tickets available for our home fans than visitors from overseas, as we want the Sea of Green to swamp the Red Tide,” said Roux.

“Given the response for tickets already balloted for, the chances are good that the ‘sold out’ signs will go up when the ballot closes this Wednesday September 16.”

The Lions also play the Cell C Sharks at Jonsson Kings Park and the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, with the tour’s only two midweek matches being in Port Elizabeth and Nelspruit against South African Invitational and SA ‘A’ respectively.

South African residents have benefitted the most in the ticket pricing categories, with the entry level matchday ticket exclusive to South Africans. The cost to the Super Saturday matches against the three Super Rugby teams is as low as R250 a ticket and the cheapest ticket for the two midweek matches is R100.

Roux insisted that the tour’s commercial goals and targets had to be counter-balanced with accessibility and affordability for South African residents.

He encouraged South Africans to embrace the matches outside of the Tests, so that every South African team gets the necessary home ground advantage through match day crowd support.

The uptake for tickets in Durban and Pretoria has been big, with Port Elizabeth and Nelspruit still offering South Africans the chance of access to tickets and the unique experience of a Lions match in South Africa.

The British & Irish Lions only visit South Africa every 12 years and next year’s visit will be their third since 1997.

Only one South African provincial team has beaten the Lions since the game went professional in 1996 – and that victory was the Bulls (then Northern Transvaal) 35-30 triumph at Loftus Versfeld in 1997.

The Bulls outscored a star-studded Lions line-up four tries to three and left-wing Casper Steyn scored a match-winning 20 points through a try, three conversions and three penalties.

Remembering the Bulls of 1997 who beat the British & Irish Lions 35-30 at Loftus

15. Graeme Bouwer, 14. Wynand Lourens (replaced by Grant Esterhuizen), 13. Johan Schutte, 12. Danie van Schalkwyk, 11. Casper Steyn, 10. Roland de Marigny, 9. Conrad Breytenbach, 8. Schutte Bekker, 7. Adriaan Richter, 6. Nicky van der Walt, 5. Derick Badenhorst (replaced by Ralf Schroeder), 4. Derrick Grobbelaar (replaced by Gerhard Laufs), 3. Piet Boer (replaced by Jacques Taljaard), 2. Henry Tromp (replaced by Jannie Brooks) and 1. Lourens Campher.