Since the relationship between Mamelodi Sundowns and the Blue Bulls rugby franchise has advanced to another level, after Sundowns owner Patrice Motsepe bought 37% of the Bulls, the general assumption is that Downs are likely to play most, if not all, of their home games at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria – a venue the Bulls also call home.
Masandawana coach Pitso Mosimane has always wanted all of the club’s home games to be played at Loftus, insisting that it is easier for fans to commute to Hatfield than to the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville.
“Loftus is better because we have fans in Atteridgeville, in Mamelodi and in Hammanskraal. They take one taxi to Mamelodi (from Loftus), one taxi to Hammanskraal and one taxi to Atteridgeville. If we go to Lucas Moripe the fans from Mamelodi must take one taxi from Mamelodi (and Hammanskraal) to town, then another taxi to Atteridgeville,” said Mosimane.
“We have to understand that the football customer is not like a rugby customer. I also think Loftus is much more hospitable and the noise is closer to the dugouts and in Lucas Moripe the noise is far. But if we have to tell the truth, Atteridgeville is a slaughterhouse – in the Caf Champions League people (other teams) don’t come out of there,” said Mosimane.
The Brazilians played their Champions League group stage opener against Petro de Luanda on Saturday night at Loftus, winning 3-0 and seemingly abandoning the Lucas Moripe Stadium where they have traditionally hosted their Champions League games.
However, it is unclear how both the Bulls and Sundowns will share the venue as Masandawana will have a challenge when the Super Rugby and Currie Cup are on as they run concurrently with the Champions League and the domestic season.
The reason why Downs staged the Champions League in Atteridgeville is because Loftus has telecommunications branding which clashes with one of Caf’s sponsors. The club previously said it is not cost effective to cover up the branding, but now that Downs’ president is a shareholder, it seems Sundowns will have their way as the branding was covered up.
Mosimane’s concern, more than anything else, is the condition of the pitch which was looking in fine condition this past Saturday.
“I would really love to see the Loftus pitch looking like this the whole year but I know when the big trucks come, this pitch will be gone. Right now this is the best that we can see, just cherish it because when the Blue Bulls come play here, it is going to be another story.”