Bulls may need temporary kraal

THE Bulls and Cheetahs could be forced to play their remaining home matches in the Super 14 competition away from Loftus Versfeld and Free State stadiums.

THE Bulls and Cheetahs could be forced to play their remaining home matches in the Super 14 competition away from Loftus Versfeld and Free State stadiums.

This could be a financial disaster for the Bulls in particular who have to host three crowd-pulling matches against the Lions, Sharks and log-leading Crusaders over the next three weekends.

Blue Bulls Company chief executive Barend van Graan has to appear before the parliamentary portfolio committee on sport today with the Free State Rugby Union's president, Harold Verster, and the president of the SA Rugby Union, Oregan Hoskins.

Their appearance before the committee stems from the concerns of its chairperson, Butana Komphela, who has inspected the two playing pitches at Loftus and Free Sate, where World Cup soccer matches are to be played, and is unhappy about their condition.

Van Graan declined to comment. But over and above the loss of income from the three matches that might have to move if Komphela gets his way in denying the Bulls the use of Loftus, there is the matter of their thousands of season ticket holders and suite owners who have to be considered. This could lead to a huge refund demanded from the Bulls and even to possible legal action.

The loss of home-ground advantage could also be the death knell for the Bulls' chances of securing a home semifinal and even a home final. The Bulls have already made contingency plans should they get that far. Those games will be played at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

The situation with the Free State Rugby Union is less serious as the Cheetahs are out of the running. The World Cup Local Organising Committee has an agreement with Saru that the scheduled Super 14 games could go ahead and that the unions will hand over the stadiums in good condition by May 20. - Sapa

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