Rugby was one of my things to do in Cape Town, so I was thrilled when my friend, Elsa, invited me to catch a game with her at Ellis Park.
Transport was an easy matter as Ellis Park is accessible via the Guatrain, a massive bus and train system built for the World Cup games. Even better, there is a Guatrain station less than a kilometer from my flat.
We met up, had a beer and were on our way. Elsa doesn’t miss an opportunity to enjoy how inexpensive the beers here are. It’s like endless $2 Miller Lites at the VFW in small-town Minnesota even when you are drinking an import on a roof top bar at the glitziest place in Sandton.
Unsurprisingly, there were more security people milling around than actually on the train. The security is tight, just last week two girls were detained for four hours and fined almost $100 over chewing gum. The Guatrain is super modern, and completely reminiscent of Delhi’s Metro system (also built, in part, for a world game event). When we exited, we followed a gentleman with an Ellis Park sign and were driven directly to the park. Sweet.
The stadium was huge and absolutely dwarfed the crowd. We grabbed some beers with trick handles (my housemate tells me one of his classmates invented these mugs and made millions) and hustled into our seats just as the clock started. I use the term our seats losely—the stadium was so empty, we simply made our way down to the field and sat down. Brilliant.
I think my favorite part were all the drunk Afrikaaners angrily shouting obscenities in their own language with the occassional f%*^ thrown in for good measure. Elsa plays rugby back in France and helped me brush up on my Rugby rules. It’s been a while.
But the game itself was actually really lively. The Lions, Joburg’s home town team, started with a huge lead of 24-0 over the Rebels, hailing from somewhere in Australia, going into the break. Something happened at halftime though and by the time Elsa and I got back with rolls of hot onions and sauce (veggie food at the stadium—the vendors all had a good laugh and charged us R5, or 60 cents), the Rebels were inexplicably leading.
So the game ended close, with the Lions just barely squeaking by with a final score of 37-32. Unfortunately, that was the last game of the season for the Lions. Next season starts in February. But at least I got to go once.