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A rugby fan’s guide to… Port Elizabeth

Charlie Peat

7 Aug 2017

Rugby fans from Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy can all look forward to travelling to two new cities as part of the expanded Guinness PRO14.

The Southern Kings are one of two South African teams making the leap across from the southern hemisphere, along with the Toyota Cheetahs.

And the Kings will be rolling out the red carpet at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium this season in the iconic city of Port Elizabeth.

History

Port Elizabeth, otherwise known as The Bay, is situated on the Eastern Cape of South Africa and is one of the largest cities in the country.

Also known as ‘the friendly city’ or ‘the windy city’, Port Elizabeth was founded in 1820 and is home to more than one million people.

No matter when you’re visiting one of the country’s major sea ports, you can expect to enjoy warm weather, and Port Elizabeth offers a wealth of water sports.

The city is located in the picturesque Algoa Bay and is steeped in British history, having been founded by settlers from the UK.

Five things to do

If you want to explore the city on a personal level, then the 5km trail that follows the footsteps of the 1820 settlers is just for you. Known as the Donkin Heritage Trail, the walk links 47 national monuments and historic sites across central Port Elizabeth.

The outskirts of the windy city are brimming with nature and if you’re a fan of wildlife, then you should head to the Addo Elephant Park, home to more than 550 elephants and is the third largest national park in the whole of South Africa.

You can also take in the natural beauty along the Sunday’s River, which gives you a glimpse of the stunning scenery and heads up to the idyllic Algoa Bay.

If you’re looking for an adrenaline kick, then the Maitland Sand Dunes provide the perfect opportunity to test out your sandboarding. They are easily accessible and make their way towards the Maitland Nature Reserve.

Cape Recife Lighthouse is one of South Africa’s most iconic lighthouses and packs plenty of history as well. The unmistakable black and white banded tower has stood at the south entrance of Algoa Bay since 1851.

Famous faces

Port Elizabeth boasts a wealth of famous sportsmen down the years, including rugby veteran Schalk Burger.

The now-Saracens man has been capped 86 times for his country after growing up in the friendly city.

Other South African rugby internationals that hail from Port Elizabeth include Joe van Niekerk, Danie Gerber and current loose forward Siya Kolisi.

Other famous sports names from the city include cricketing legend Shaun Pollock, who played more than 100 Test matches for the country.

Opposition

The Southern Kings first came into existence in 2009 for the British & Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa, and they acquitted themselves well for a scratch side, pushing Sir Ian McGeechan’s team in a 20-8 defeat.

They first played in Super Rugby in 2013, and after two years out, returned in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Stadium

The Southern Kings play their rugby at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, which was built for the 2010 Football World Cup. It is a 46,000-seater stadium in Port Elizabeth and has hosted Springbok matches, as well as South African leg of the World Rugby Seven Series for four years.