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Shocking Turnout For Leinster's First Pro14 Game In South Africa

Shocking Turnout For Leinster's First Pro14 Game In South Africa
By PJ Browne Updated

Leinster became the guinea pigs for the new Pro14 on Saturday afternoon. They are the first of the old Pro12 sides to play in South Africa following the hurried expansion of the league last month.

It was the Southern Kings, who are based in Port Elizabeth, who were first up for Leinster at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Next weekend, they play the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium has a capacity of 46,000. Very few of those seats - approximately just over one per cent of them - were occupied for the game against Leinster.

Even watching the game on TG4 was a strange experience given the lack of noise at the stadium.

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Leinster's trip to South Africa got off to an inauspicious start during the week when New Zealanders Isa Nacewa and Jamison Gibson-Park were denied entry into the country due to visa issues. It's an issue which surely would have been flagged if a confirmed fixture list had been seen more than just a month prior to the league kicking off.

There is another factor to consider in the poor attendance: the Springboks played the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship today, receiving a record-breaking 57-0 hammering at the North Harbour Stadium outside Auckland.

Surely only ardent Southern Kings fans - and there are not many of them in the first place - would have considered going to the game, likely to be another defeat for a team they support. Last year, the Kings managed to fill just 15 per cent of the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium, with an average attendance of just under 7,000.

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So far this season, the Kings have suffered heavy defeats to the Scarlets and Connacht.

Photo by Richard Huggard/Sportsfile

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