The Vodacom Bulls and Orlando Pirates FC are perhaps best known for their unrelenting pursuit of success, their never-say-die attitude and their bulging trophy cabinets. The similarities between South Africa’s most successful rugby franchise and the only PSL team to clinch CAF African Champions League glory are palpable.
Just months after Orlando Pirates FC celebrated their glorious 75 year history in South African football, the Blue Bulls Rugby Union will kick off theirs at the home ground of the reigning Absa Premiership champions. The Gauteng Rugby Cup features former Vodacom Super Rugby champions the Vodacom Bulls in action against the MTN Lions in an historic clash that will bring back memories of the first ever encounter between these Unions.
The Gauteng Rugby Cup, which forms part of the Gauteng Sports Challenge, is expected to provide a massive socio-economic boost to the Soweto community. MEC Lebogang Maile, Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, says the Gauteng Rugby Cup is all about sport for social cohesion.
“In 2010 we had two sold out matches for the Vodacom Bulls matches against the Crusaders and the Stormers at Orlando Stadium. There was excitement and enthusiasm about the return of rugby to Soweto. I’m hoping that our community supports the Gauteng Rugby Cup with the same euphoria and anticipation as they did for the Super Rugby matches back in 2010.”
Orlando Pirates head coach Roger de Sa welcomed Blue Bulls Company CEO Barend van Graan to Orlando Stadium and wished the team success in their upcoming Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.
“Like Orlando Pirates, the Bulls have a rich and proud history in South African sport. They have created a legacy here for the Orlando community and will no doubt continue to treat our rugby-starved community of first class action. On behalf of my players and club, I would like to wish the Vodacom Bulls the best of luck in their pre-season match against the MTN Lions and in their 2013 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.”
Barend van Graan is looking forward to the team’s return to Orlando Stadium.
“The Gauteng Rugby Cup represents the very beginnings of our Union and that in itself is a special moment. The team is looking forward to returning to Orlando Stadium and experiencing that unreserved Soweto support once again. This is also a great opportunity for our fans and the public to help us honour our past heroes and to motivate our team for their upcoming Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.”
Stadium Management SA Chairman and CEO Jacques Grobbelaar reiterated the words of MEC Maile with regards to the role rugby plays in social cohesion.
“Without question, rugby matches are hugely beneficial to the Soweto community in terms of the economic boost, but the social impact is what impresses us most. When we hosted the Vodacom Bulls and the Crusaders in 2010 in their semifinal encounter, there were tens of thousands of traditional rugby supporters making their way to the stadium, the atmosphere was incredible and was perhaps the best advertisement we had for a unified community.”
Saturday’s action at Orlando Stadium kicks off with a curtain-raiser featuring the Police Rugby Club against the Roodepoort Rugby Club. Gates open at 12pm with the Vodacom Bulls locking horns with the MTN Lions at 3pm.
Tickets cost R40 for general, unreserved seats and can be purchased from Computicket outlets countrywide, by booking online at www.computicket.com or by dialling 0861 915 8000. General parking at Klipspruitvalley costs R20 and Hospitality parking tickets at Orlando High School cost R50. Ticket sales open on Friday, 25 January. Hospitality packages can be purchased from SAIL either online at www.sail.co.za or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and at Ultimate Sporting Concepts by emailing email@example.com