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Edinburgh shuts door on Cape Town

Fri, 12 Oct 2012 08:51
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South Africa is simply not an option
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For the second time in the past year Cape Town had the door shut on them when it seemed the city would host a European Cup game involving Saracens.

Last time stodgy Western Province club officials pulled the rug when Saracens wanted to host French club Biarritz at the purpose-built Cape Town stadium in the city's Green Point precinct.

On Friday it was revealed that Scottish franchise Edinburgh shut the door on a similar proposal by Saracens.

Saracens suggested that to Edinburgh that the two Pool One rivals stage their final group match on January 19 at the 55000-seat Cape Town stadium next year.

But the Scottish club rejected the idea, leaving the South African-owned team frustrated again.

"Edinburgh can confirm that the club have declined to explore further an approach by Saracens to move their final pool match of this season's European Cup to Cape Town, South Africa," the outfit said in a statement.

The clubs are set to go head to head on Saturday at Murrayfield Stadium in the opening round of Pool One, as Michael Bradley's men seek to recapture the form that saw them reach the last four of Europe's top club competition.

Close to 40,000 fans turned out at the club's quarterfinal win over Toulouse and more than 4,000 travelled to Dublin for the match against Ulster in the last four.

With fans' excitement mounting ahead of Saturday's match, Edinburgh Rugby managing director Craig Docherty explained that the offer was neither 'commercially compelling' or one the club could 'seriously consider'.

He said: "As a club, our commitment is to our fans and other key stakeholders, such as sponsors, and fundamentally our goal is to qualify from what is a very challenging European Cup pool.

"Following Edinburgh to South Africa is simply not an option for the vast majority whose support was so crucial to our journey to last season's semifinal. I'm sure they will be desperate to support us in what could be a critical pool game.

"The case made by Saracens was not commercially compelling and, from a performance perspective, would have had a detrimental effect on our preparation for and recovery from this match.

"Edinburgh Rugby are open to new and innovative ideas but the prospect of playing our final pool game in the southern hemisphere was simply not an option that we could seriously consider from a number of different perspectives.

"We consulted with tournament organisers ERC and Scottish Rugby throughout this process and both are happy with our decision."

Saracens also failed in attempt to stage their European Cup clash against Munster in New York.

Saracens explored switching their European Cup match against Munster in December to New York, the Telegraph Sport revealed.

The Premiership club planned to stage the game on December 16 at the MetLife Stadium - home to American football sides the New York Giants and New York Jets - only to be thwarted by problems in erecting rugby posts in the artificial turf.

Munster said that they received an informal approach from Saracens about switching their game to New York in July and had viewed it "positively".

Saracens Chief Executive Edward Griffiths said the Premiership club were unable to proceed with the project because of technical problems at the 82,500-capacity stadium at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

"We are in a unique position this season because our new stadium, Allianz Park, is not ready and we saw this an opportunity to take some top-class rugby matches where we could create big events that people want to watch," Griffiths said.

"I went to New York in July and looked at the MetLife Stadium. We looked at the size of the pitch and it came down in the end to the fact that we would need to put rugby posts into the artificial turf.

"The owners of the two NFL teams didn't want the poles going into the turf, they wanted them going in behind the line so it wouldn't affect the line where their score a touchdown.

"It was disappointing because we wanted to put it on a grand stage and the MetLife Stadium is a fantastic venue at Meadowlands. My feeling was if we had been able to play there we would have had a great occasion.

"The indication from Munster, too, was that they would be eager to receive a proposal. I think they had worked out for an Irish team to go to New York made quite a lot of sense."

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