The field tore up badly in the opening game of the Test series
Will Cape Town pitch hold up for rest of Lions series?
It was an incredible second half of action as the British & Irish Lions beat the Springboks in the first Test, 22-17. It was tense, riveting stuff. However, while fans and pundits will debate selections and performances until the next squads are finalised for Test two, there was one performance that was universally panned in this match – that of the Cape Town pitch.
After days of rain in the region, the field didn’t take long into the contest for it to tear up. Later into the game it was obvious that the pitch was coming up in clumps, raising concerns about scrum time.
Earlier in the week it was announced that all three Lions Tests to be played in Cape Town in order to reduce the risks posed by Covid-19 elsewhere in the country. The tour was due to return to Gauteng after this weekend’s first Test between the Lions and the Springboks, with the second and third Tests played at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. But it is all in one place from here on in.
When asked about the pitch post-match, Lions coach Warren Gatland said: “That’s the way the pitch is. It is quite slippery. It was a lovely day here and was dry when we arrived but when it gets to six or seven o’clock it does get slippery and dewy.
“It’s not the easiest pitch to scrummage on. It’s like anywhere in southern hemisphere in winter time, nice days but pitches get slippery and dewy in evening.”
Considering how vital the set-piece battles will be in this Test series in the weeks to come – with the feet churning in scrums and mauls over the next 160 minutes – will this field recover in time and manage to hold? It is a concern and some will be worrying about whether yet another change of venue may be needed with the state of the pitch becoming a real issue.
What did you think of the pitch? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or via social media.
Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.