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D-Day for Newlands heritage site decision as WPRFU sweat over ‘future of rugby’

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Cape Town – Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) and its administrator from SA Rugby will have to wait until after the middle of February, at least, for the results of the public participation process in the application to declare the Newlands Stadium a provincial heritage site.

The CEO of Heritage Western Cape, Michael Janse van Rensburg, confirmed to IOL Sport that a sitting of the inventories, gradings and interpretations committee (IGIC) will meet on February 17, when the results of the process will be tabled.

The process to have the Newlands Stadium declared a provincial heritage site was started by former Springbok captain Wynand Claassen and others to prevent the sale of the iconic stadium under Table Mountain.

The WPRFU, the owner of the stadium, though, is in a race against time to sell it to ‘save rugby’ in the region but the delay in the process is causing some uneasiness.

Rian Oberholzer, the administrator of SA Rugby, recently said preventing the sale of Newlands “will absolutely mean the end of the WPRFU as we know it”.

But, despite the urgency to sell, the union will have to wait for the public participation process and application to be finalised before further steps can be taken concerning the stadium.

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Janse van Rensburg said the public participation results must still be scrutinised before any decisions by Heritage Western Cape would be made.

“It will be dealt with at the IGIC meeting on 17 February,” he said. “The public plays an important role in the process.”

The WPRFU had expected the process to be done by the end of January but it seems it will have to wait a couple of weeks for clarity around the process.

The union, which was placed under administration in October 2021, owes a sum reportedly around R112 million to Flyt/ Dreamworld, a property consortium.

The participation process closed on January 31 but before that the WPRFU sent an urgent notice to its affiliates, schools, clubs and supporters, and even posted on social media, pleading with them to urgently throw their weight behind opposing the process to declare the stadium a heritage site.

Even though Heritage Western Cape would have received submissions from the public, there is no timeline as to when the outcome of the process will be announced, even if the results of the public participation process are tabled on February 17.

Meanwhile, the WPRFU and its administrator hope that the process can be speeded up as the “future of rugby in the Cape” depends on the eventual sale of Newlands.

“Our legal opinion, from a heritage specialist, says there are absolutely no grounds on which Newlands can become a heritage site,” Oberholzer said a few weeks ago.

He also publicly questioned Claassen’s motives behind the application.


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