Big crowd expected for Kings showdown

RUGBY FESTIVAL: Southern Kings media manager Chumani Bambani says it will be a festival of entertainment and rugby when the Kings clash with the Sharks at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday

Officials anticipate between 20 000 and 30 000 spectators for crunch clash against Sharks

Southern Kings officials are expecting between 20 000 and 30 000 fans to flock to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to watch their team’s crunch Super Rugby showdown against the Sharks on Saturday.

A test-match atmosphere is likely to prevail in Port Elizabeth after the Kings won their previous two matches against the Waratahs and Rebels, and a #FILLTHESTADIUM campaign is being run on social media.

“We saw big crowds in 2013 when the whole of the Eastern Cape supported the Kings,” the franchise’s media manager, Chumani Bambani, said.

“We are getting the same response now on social media so we are hoping to get the actual numbers coming through to the stadium.

“A full stadium of 45 000 would be the top priority and we would like that, but if we are more realistic perhaps between 20 000 to 30 000.

“We will be expecting nothing less than that,” he said.

A full day’s rugby and entertainment has been planned for the crowd ahead of the Super Rugby showdown.

“We have a curtain-raiser between the EP Kings and the Border Bulldogs at 2.30pm ahead of the main Sharks clash, which kicks off at 5.15pm.

“To start the day, we have a game between the EP Academy and the Stellenbosch Academy at 12.30pm on the stadium’s B Field to start a festival of rugby,” Bambani said.

Kings head coach Deon Davids said his team were focusing on a Sharks team which is expected to be captained by Springbok Patrick Lambie.

“The #FILLTHESTADIUM campaign is a fantastic initiative and our supporters are very important to us,” Davids said.

“I believe with better support, it will bring a new energy and drive to the team. So it will be great if we can fill up the stadium.

“But at this point in time we are entirely focused on rebuilding and preparing for the Sharks game. We are happy with the results of the past two games.

“But in Super Rugby one game you are up and the next game you can be down if you don’t keep your feet on the ground.

“We are going through our processes to ensure we prepare thoroughly to put up a good performance,” Davids said.

Mandela Bay Development Agency marketing and communications manager Luvuyo Bangazi said the campaign was significant for them in two ways.

“Firstly, it is to give our team, the Southern Kings, the support they deserve after showing deep courage and warrior-like spirit when they thrashed the Rebels,” Bangazi said.

“Secondly, to show the world that the Eastern Cape and Nelson Mandela Bay deserve a place at the highest rugby table.

“One of the ways the public can fight for rugby in this province is to go out in numbers and fill up the NMB Stadium.”

The south gate on the Fettes Road side will open at noon ahead of the first curtain-raiser. The other gates will open from 2pm.

There will also be a fan park which promises an energetic lineup of outdoor activities. Music entertainment will be provided from 3pm until 5pm.

Tickets are on sale at participating branches of Postnet, Edgars, Edgars Active, CNA, Engen, Jetmart and the ticket office at the stadium.

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