Rugby: ABs ready for vuvuzela-free Soccer City

Richie McCaw. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Richie McCaw. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The All Blacks will grace the soccer World Cup final venue next month but won't have to battle the din of the dreaded vuvuzela.

South African Rugby Union (SARU) president Oregan Hoskins today confirmed the August 21 Tri-Nations test in Johannesburg had been moved from Ellis Park to the 88,791-capacity Soccer City in Soweto, which will host Monday's (NZT) World Cup final between the Netherlands and Spain.

And they will play the Springboks in relative peace after it was confirmed the vuvuzela horn - which has dominated television coverage of the soccer - would be banned for the test, the All Blacks' only one in South Africa this year.

"We've done our research and we have found that the vuvuzelas actually interfere with the rugby. It isn't the same for soccer, so we have decided to do away with it for this test. We want people to experience the vibe of a full capacity crowd at the national stadium," Kevin de Klerk, the president of host union the Golden Lions, told the Super Rugby website.

"Our analysis is that the players have difficulty with the lineout calls and in communicating moves on the field. The structure of the two games is also very different, where in soccer there is more room to communicate and game plans are more well-rehearsed.

"The final of the Super 14 was actually extended by a few minutes as the referee could not hear the calls from the linesman."

Crusaders players experienced the vuvuzela din during their Super 14 semifinal against the Bulls which was shifted from Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld, which was required as a World Cup training venue.

Hoskins said it was a "groundbreaking decision" between SARU and Johannesburg's Golden Lions union.

"Taking the Springboks to what is already an iconic world venue gives our players and supporters the best stage on which to enjoy rugby. It also allows us to continue the nation building through sport that we have enjoyed throughout the FIFA World Cup."

The match will be the first time the Springboks have played at a dedicated soccer stadium in South Africa.

South African rugby will attempt to tap into the good feeling created when the Bulls hosted a Super 14 semifinal and the final in Soweto in May.

On that occasion, mainly white rugby fans celebrated with black residents in the township -- a significant moment for a country with a troubled racial past and an ideal advert ahead of its historic hosting of soccer's first African World Cup.

At today's briefing, Hoskins announced 5000 tickets for the Soccer City Tri-Nations test would be sold exclusively at outlets in Soweto at a reduced price of 100 rand ($18).

A capacity crowd of 88,000 people would be the biggest rugby crowd for a game in South Africa since a test against the British Lions in 1955 - which was watched by 95,000 people.

The All Blacks and Springboks meet in the Tri-Nations opener in Auckland on Saturday. Eden Park officials have also confirmed vuvuzelas are banned there.

- NZPA

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