South Africa is a sports mad country and home to some of the world’s best – and most iconic – sporting events and festivals. From football, rugby and cricket to cycling and running, there are some serious bucket-list opportunities to explore.
Cape Town 10s
The brainchild of former Springboks, Bob Skinstad and Robbie Fleck, and their friend Ron Rutland, the Cape Town 10s has come a long way since the first tournament in 2008. Starting off as purely a 10s rugby tournament, it has blown up in terms of popularity and has quickly evolved into a multi-sport event with the inclusion of Netball, Beach Volleyball and Dodgeball, while the newest additions will see Hockey, Soccer and Running join the fold. 2018 marked the 10-year anniversary of the tournament and it shows no signs of slowing down with it recently being billed as the biggest ten-a-side rugby tournament in the world, with some of the game’s biggest names having taken part, including Jonah Lomu, Carlos Spencer and Christian Cullen.
The South African Open
South Africa has always had a strong presence in global golf and nowhere is that more evident than the wealth of top-tier players coming out of the country and the incredible quality of the courses. From Simola and Fancourt on the Garden Route to Pearl Valley in the Western Cape, visitors will be assured of testing their game on the very best fairways and greens. The pinnacle of golf in SA, of course is the South African Open – one of the oldest national golfing tournaments in the world and one of the principle tournaments on the Sunshine Tour. Some of golf’s biggest names have graced the event, including local legends like Ernie Els and Gary Player.
Cape Town 7s
Few countries are as sports mad as South Africa and none are as obsessed with the rugby as we are. Apart from football, it is the most popular game in the country and the Cape Town leg of the IRB World Sevens Series brings the city to a grind halt for one weekend in December. Hosted at the Cape Town Stadium, the festival of rugby sees the world’s best Sevens teams battle it out in front of a sell-out crowd. The home team is always in the running for the top prize winning the tournament in 2015, placing second in 2016 and third in 2017.
Cape Town Sixes
Held annually at the Green Point Cricket Club, the Cape Town Sixes was first staged in 2016 and it has already become a major fixture in the city’s sports calendar. The format has a number of leagues, ranging from social to corporate, and is the perfect option for touring teams looking to take on some of the locals in a fun, vibey environment. If the cricket is not a big enough lure, the event has also added Five Futbol with three divisions to choose from, while there is plenty of entertainment to enjoy if your team suffers an early exit.
The Soweto Derby
Football is very much a sport that is close to the hearts of all South Africans and nowhere is the passion for the game better illustrated than in the Soweto Derby – the high-profile clash between Premier League heavyweights Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs. Considered one of the most fiercely-contested matches in African football, the match has split the Soweto fans since the first meeting in 1970. The rivalry stems from the fact that Chiefs was established by a former Pirates player KaizerMotaung and it has only grown more intense over time. A must-do for travelling football teams / fans looking to immerse themselves in the local game.
Cape Cycle Tour
The world’s largest timed cycle race, the Cape Cycle Tour is the jewel in the crown for cycling in the Mother City and easily one of South Africa’s largest – and most popular – sporting events. Held every year in March, the route is 109km long and one of the most beautiful in the world, circling the Cape Peninsula with the start and the finish in the shadow of the iconic Table Mountain. Cyclists can also take on the MTB Challenge the week before, while the Cape Town Cycle Tour Expo has become almost as popular as the race itself with all sorts of cycling goodies to browse!
Two Oceans Ultra
Every Easter Weekend, more than 10 000 runners descend on Cape Town to take on the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon – a 56km ultra and “the world’s most beautiful marathon”. Don’t believe the hype? You should, because the route makes its way around the Cape Peninsula, incorporating both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and some of the most jaw-dropping scenery the Cape has to offer. The Two Oceans Half Marathon is also incredibly popular with 15 000 runners taking part, and while the shorter distance doesn’t quite boast the same views, it is still easily one of the prettiest runs of its kind.
One of the most brutal events of its kind, the Absa Cape Epic has grown to be one of mountain biking’s biggest draws globally. The largest full-service mountain bike stage race in the world, the Cape Epic covers 700kms of the Western Cape region in South Africa – a route that is matched in toughness by the beauty of its surroundings. The route changes significantly each year andlures amateur and professional cyclists from across the globe to test their mettle. In 2015, 55 countries were represented at the race, which kicked off with a prologue on the slopes of Table Mountain and culminated in the Grand Finale finish at Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville. Few, if any, races can compare to what the Epic showcases.