Our Preparation for the World Cup Second Round

Another fine night’s rest at another splendid B&B (based on the pricing of backpackers and B&Bs, the outrageous exploitation of the backpackers means the difference in cost is less than normal, and the amenities and hospitality at the Afrikaner B&Bs have been top notch). We were up early as we had to return the car to OR Tambo as our booking had run its course. However, with our change in venues for the Round of 16 match for the US match, we now needed another car as public transportation would not be feasible for getting to Rustenburg. After experiencing the organization of Ellis Park in Johannesburg, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, and the stadium in Bloemfontein, it made much more sense to us when South Africans refer to Rustenburg as a small town. I wonder how games at Polokwane and Nelspriut were taken in as they are both small towns compared to the big cities of Durban, Cape Town, and Joburg. However, both of those towns had brand new stadiums, and looking at the layout of the security on our booklet from FIFA with our tickets, it looks like the design makes much more sense in terms of getting in and out. Rustenburg has hosted four more matches since England and the United States opened up on the second day of the tournament, thus hopefully they will have gotten their act together, as making the front page of a national newspaper for having fans walk 3k+ (like we did) to get transport must have not gone down well with organizers.
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Following the Invasion of Boks into Witbank

On May 7th, I happened to be checking out SuperSport’s new iPhone app (which is surprisingly robust and filled with information) and I saw that SA Rugby just recently announced a test match would be taking place in Witbank, a two hour drive from Joburg, between the Springboks and Italy in June. I was excited to learn that we would be in Johannesburg on the 19th(the day of the match), as the Slovenia – US match was being played just the day before at Ellis Park. A chance to see World Cup matches AND catch a Springbok game is a great score as it fulfills one of the things that I truly missed out on in my time in South Africa.

The first Springboks game I watched was one of their World Cup warm-up games against Namibia, held in Cape Town in August. I had no real sense of desire to watch them play, but after their subsequent run to hoisting the World Cup in Paris that November, the desire to watch a Springboks game had taken hold.

I booked on my calender the day test tickets were available, as I the article made it seem they would go quick. Tickets in the end were easy to get, we just bought ours through Computicket tonight, and it’s only $70 for the both of us. It’s only a 20k seater stadium, and out in the rural areas, so not in the pantheon of Afrikanerdom that say Newlands or Ellis Park offer, but it should be a great experience regardless. They were predicting a quick sell out as this is the first Springbok game to come to the local rugby union of the province, though I’m sure there will be lots of people from Gauteng making the trek out east to catch a glimpse of the Springboks while the country is in the throes and drama of the World Cup.

Making the trek to Witbank is very doable as we’ll be in our three week period of hiring a car. A much longer trek is heading out to Bylde River Canyon which is close to Mozambique border. As it’s nearly a six hour journey by car, I’ve had a hard time convincing Alisa to wake up early enough to get out there and get back. I had originally hoped that we could get out there for a morning stroll and hike, and then head back to Joburg and stop in Witbank (which is on the way) for the Boks match. While a typical South African could make up that distance in the speed that they drive at, I’m not sure we want to rush throughout that day as it will diminish the enjoyable of two spectacular events. I think we’ll put off the canyon till the end of the trip, and hire a car for 2-3 days to make the journey out there and take in all the park has on offer.