June International Tours

Another disappointing Lions crowd

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Another disappointing crowd saw the British and Irish Lions beat the Free State Cheetahs 24-26 in Bloemfontein on Saturday.


Only 23 710 spectators were present at the match – half the capacity of the stadium – with the other two matches on the Lions tour to date not drawing even 50 percent of the respective capacities.


Added to the 12 300 in Rustenburg where the Lions played their first match against the Royal XV, only 22 200 spectators attended the match against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg to make it just more than 58 000 spectators in three matches.


The absence of crowd numbers has surprised the British press following the tour.


Little has been seen of the passionate rugby following that they had expected – and even the Super 14 final on the same day as the tour opener, the recession or the cold in Bloemfontein cannot be used as excuses.


Ticket prices are in line with international tours, and the extensive coverage of the tour by the media cannot be faulted either.

 

Test ticket prices are however as much as three times the normal Test ticket prices for South Africans but they were sold out months ago.

 

Ticket prices might be in line with international tours but it must be remembered there are not two international sides playing in these matches and also that the best players or the team’s stars have been taken out of the matches against the Lions current opposition.

 

Perhaps the poor showing of the Cheetahs and the Golden Lions in the Super 14 competition played a part, and reasonable crowds are expected in Durban and Cape Town on Wednesday and Saturday respectively.


Part of that can be attributed to the large British Lions followers expected to stream through South African airports from this weekend onwards, with a total of what was orginally 50 000 but now reduced to 30 000 projected fans to follow the tour at some stage or other and for varying lengths of time.

 

The Springboks have been wrapped up in cotton wool while the Lions are being put through their paces trying to avoid injuries while hiding what they have in store for the Springboks and trying to find combinations that will essentially decide the success of the tournament.

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