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Rugby fans give Orlando stadium the thumbs up

Rugby supporters gave Soweto’s Orlando Stadium the thumbs up on Saturday, but were less complimentary about the traffic flow that saw many missing part of the game between the Blue Bulls and the Crusaders.

Fan Louis Christoudoulo said the experience and the facilities at the stadium were “great” but complained that it took one and a half hours to get from the highway to the park and ride facilities.

“The logistics were a disappointment. I arrived halfway through the game,” he said.

As fans streamed out of the stadium after the Bulls’ victory, others complained that there had been no Johannesburg metro policemen in sight to help ease the congestion on the approach to the stadium earlier in the day.

Some said they felt safer at Orlando Stadium than at Ellis Park in Doornfontein.

Japie Breytenbach, Jan Vorster and Spies de Beer said they would definitely return to the stadium for other games.

Earlier, Soweto residents stood on the roofs of their houses welcoming the throngs of rugby supporters walking through their streets towards the stadium for the first game of its kind in the vast suburb south of Johannesburg.

Gridlock
Another possible first in Soweto was Gerhard Steyn’s song Baby Tjoklits wafting over the crowds.

Motorists stuck in the gridlock on the way to the stadium had abandoned their cars on the nearby highway and walked to the stadium to be in time for kick-off.

Although the mood was upbeat there were mutterings about authorities being caught off guard regarding the traffic flow, which saw thousands of people still outside the stadium after kick-off, as the nearby Soccer City hosted its first official match ahead of the World Cup.

“We left Randburg at 2pm,” said one supporter, walking briskly towards the stadium after 5pm, after having abandoned her car.

“Expect lots of complaints to the letters page of Beeld,” grumbled another.

Commuters, who had been singing Shosholoza, also began getting off the buses thinking they would get to the stadium faster, while little children ran alongside them pointing their fingers over their heads in the shape of bulls’
horns.

Bulls supporters hung from bus windows, seemingly fascinated by life in the township.

Some handed money to the children who shouted “Bulle, Bulle”.

Normally a soccer venue, the stadium on saturday was hosting the rugby match because the Bulls’ traditional territory, Loftus in Pretoria, had been handed over to World Cup organisers.

Orlando stadium is historically the home of soccer teams Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows.

Over at Soccer City, President Jacob Zuma presided over the opening of the new stadium followed by a match between Bidvest Wits and AmaZulu. – Sapa

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Gillian Jones
Guest Author

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