South African Pro14 rugby union team the Southern Kings has announced that it will play Ireland’s Ulster at Wolfson Stadium in Kwazakhele, Port Elizabeth next month.
The game will take place on November 4 with the initiative expected to draw in big crowds.
The Kings, along with fellow South African team the Cheetahs, recently joined what is now known as the Pro14, which had previously been made up of European teams. The two teams had previously played in the pan-continental Super Rugby competition.
The Kings normally play at the much larger Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Attendances for the Kings’ first two Pro14 games at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium have been disappointing, with just 3,011 fans having turned out for last month’s defeat against Irish team Leinster. It is hoped moving the Ulster fixture to the Wolfson Stadium will create a better atmosphere.
“Top-class rugby is moving into a new part of the calendar with November fixtures in South Africa and we thought it would be a good opportunity to move into a new part of the community,” said Charl Crous, chief operation officer of the Southern Kings.
“We saw how well the SuperSport Rugby Challenge matches were supported when provincial rugby was taken to community venues this year and we know the Kwazakhele population will turn out for rugby on their doorstep.
“A crowd of 10,000 can get ‘lost’ in a massive venue like the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, but it would lift the roof off the rafters in a packed Wolfson Stadium. The Wolfson Stadium has hosted numerous high-profile events before, including top flight soccer fixtures, SuperSport initiatives and Springbok training sessions.
“It has everything we need and there is secure perimeter parking. It will be an opportunity for many fans to experience top-flight rugby as never before – in a full, vibrant stadium with a unique atmosphere and energy.”
Kings coach Deon Davids said: “We opened one of our practice sessions to the public in Despatch recently as part of this strategy, so both the coaches and team are extremely excited about the opportunities that hosting a match at the Wolfson Stadium holds for us.”