Newlands rugby stadium simply refuses to host its “final ever match”. © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

What is actually going to happen to Newlands Rugby Stadium

The grand old dame of Western Province rugby is soon to be no more but some things remain up in the air.


Newlands rugby stadium simply refuses to host its “final ever match”. © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

By all accounts, Newlands Rugby Stadium hosted its last game on 23 January 2021 when Western Province lost to the Sharks in a Currie Cup semi-final. 

It has become clear that the stadium will no longer host Western Province Rugby, the Stormers or the Springboks and its days as an alternate stadium for Cape-based football teams are also over.

There are many very good reasons for Western Province Rugby to move away from the place it has called home for over a century, but the decision still does not sit well with the faithful and has also irked many neutrals.

Logistically, Newlands was hamstrung by its physical position in a leafy and largely residential suburb of Cape Town, under the shadow of table mountain. The infrastructure surrounding and feeding Newlands has long been a problem for residents and the stadium alike, and the construction of the Cape Town Stadium for the 2010 football world cup set the clock ticking for a move away from the suburbs and into the City itself.

Newlands still has a special place in the hearts of rugby fans but that sentiment isn’t something you can put a price tag on and in recent years the land that the famous stadium stands on has become incredibly valuable. 

Very few were surprised when it was announced that plans were afoot to redevelop the stadium, some were upset, some might even have been hurt but there was an air of inevitability about the move.

Sports teams constantly tread a line between maintaining the atmosphere or soul of their venue and keeping pace with developments in stadium technology. In English football a number of teams have been forced to move away from their traditional strongholds to keep pace. Notably London clubs Arsenal and West Ham moved away from their famous home grounds. The Hammers are still struggling to recreate the atmosphere of their Upton Park ground at the much larger and newer London Stadium. 

There are fears that the Cape Town Stadium won’t have the same soul as Newlands, but it is clear that there is no turning back now.

What is actually going to happen to Newlands

The question about what will actually happen to the Newlands Stadium structure remains somewhat up in the air.

The Western Province Rugby Football Union has been embroiled in an ongoing drama surrounding the sale and right to develop the land and the fallout has seen a major shakeup of the union’s board.

How much, if anything at all, of the stadium structure will remain intact through the redevelopment plans is still a mystery.

The most likely scenario would see the stadium entirely demolished and replaced with residential and retail properties. 

The WPRFU’s reneging on deals with property developers has cast some doubt over this but the harsh reality is that the stadium has to be demolished for the cash-strapped to get out of the financial hole they find themselves in.

Originally the demolition was set for 2021 but even that remains up in the air as the WPRFU continues to wheel and deal in search of what they deem to be their best option.

Very soon, the only place Newlands Rugby Stadium will exist is in the memories of those who visited the ground or saw it on TV.

What do you think of the demolition of Newlands? Sound off in the comments section below.