There’s a brouhaha going on in Cape Town at the moment over the venue for a game of rugby between an English club, Saracens, and the French club Biarritz. Saracens, who are organising the game, have decided that they would like it to be held at the Cape Town stadium. The City are happy with that, as are Biarritz, as are the fans. The Western Province Rugby Union, however, are not happy because they want the match played at their own stadium, Newlands.
This is where my understanding breaks down. Let’s try an analogy. you and your girlfriend or boyfriend have decided to go on a date to a certain restaurant. A third party, who just happens to be dating someone else and who also owns a restaurant cries foul, and tries to insist that you go to his restaurant. I know what I’d do if that occurred. I’d want to know who rattled the third party’s chain, and what the hell has our night out got to do with him?
Now a fourth party has thrust their oar into the fray. The City of Cape Town in the person of its mayor, Patricia De Lille is trying to resolve the impasse. Here’s a quote from Her Worship:
To date, the city and Western Province Rugby have had several technical discussions aimed at paving the way for formal discussions to commence. These have been productive and cordial, with both parties knowing full well that their principals are the final authority in taking decisions.
In light of the genial relationship that has pervaded to date, I would like to engage with you and your management team with a view to lifting your suspension and recommencing talks with the city.
Well, she’s lost me. This is gobbledegook. What suspension? How can both party’s principals be the final authority in taking decisions? The final authority must surely be a single entity, and in any case it doesn’t answer the question of what a game between two foreign teams has to do with the local club.
It seems it hinges on a matter of definition. Western Province Rugby think that they are a thing called the “host union” merely on the grounds that the match will be played in their geographical vicinity, and that according to the constitution of the South African Rugby Union they have the final decision as to where the match will be played. But how can they be regarded as the host union when they aren’t even taking part in the match? Saracens, who have arranged the match, are surely the host union. And isn’t there a conflict of interest here? Western Province Rugby own Newlands Stadium and therefore stand to make a lot of money should the match be played there.
It is understandable that they would want that, but it cannot be good that they are able to coerce other parties into using their facilities when there is another, arguably superior, stadium available. Judging from the comments by rugby fans in the press and on talk radio, most of them prefer the new Cape Town stadium over Newlands. I don’t attend mass events on account of my ochlophobia, and even if that were not the case I wouldn’t attend this event because I don’t have the slightest interest in either team; but those who do stump up the scratch to go to these things should be allowed a reasonable choice.
Update 18/11/2011 06:36 The game is off. Well done, Western Province Rugby–you have behaved like the spoiled child who takes his ball and goes home because he isn’t winning. Arseholes.
Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License