Thursday, May 20, 2010


Andy Ellis hopes playing in Soweto will bring an unexpected bonus for the Crusaders on Sunday morning.
With the Bulls having to transfer their Super 14 semifinal to Soweto's Orlando Stadium to accommodate Fifa's preparations for the football World Cup at Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld, the Crusaders are crossing their fingers the switch in grounds will result is some rare support from the South African population.

"It will probably mean a lot to the people there, I would imagine," Crusaders halfback Ellis said. "I would like to think we get a lot more support, a lot more `home' crowd."

The Crusaders always generate a loyal following among a section of the coloured population whenever they play in Cape Town and hope some of the locals in Soweto, a massive township in Johannesburg, will also cheer on the visitors.

The Bulls' home ground in Pretoria has been labelled Fort Loftus for good reason. When they beat the Crusaders 40-35 in extra-time earlier this month it was their 18th consecutive win there.

Loftus does not only draw fans like flies to a freshly cooked leg of lamb – the Bulls players also know every blade of grass and as soon as they walk through the gates it must feel like a second home.

Now they will have to sacrifice that as they are forced to travel south down the highway into Johannesburg to play at the unfamiliar Orlando Stadium.

"If there is any ground that is a fortress to a team, it is probably Loftus," acknowledged Ellis.
"I would like to think going away and playing in Soweto changes things a little bit. Their kicker [Morne Steyn] is obviously used to it – I would hate to think of how many balls he has kicked over at Loftus. So hopefully the unfamiliar ground will serve us well."

When the two sides last met, Springboks No 10 Steyn kicked five penalties, two conversions and two drop goals.
Unlike Loftus, which has a capacity of 50,000, Orlando Stadium, the home of the Orlando Pirates football team, houses just 40,000.

Although the Bulls franchise is encouraging its supporters to move swiftly to buy tickets, some have expressed reservations about having to travel to the unfamiliar destination.
Unlike Loftus, where fans can park their cars and trucks and stoke up their braais, there are no facilities for parking around the Orlando ground. Instead the Bulls loyalists will be expected either to catch trains into the township or ride in buses to the ground.

No comments: