South Africa visa changes hit Crusaders fans

first_imgBecause a 20-year visa-free travel arrangement between South Africa and New Zealand has ended, Kiwis now require a three-month holiday visa to visit the Republic; and as passionate Crusaders fan Grant Golding has discovered, getting one at short notice is very difficult.After the Crusaders beat the Chiefs in the semifinal at AMI Stadium last weekend, Golding contacted the South African High Commission in Wellington to ask about securing the documentation to travel to the Republic.But by the time he got off the blower he knew there was about as much chance of flying to the moon as there was of getting to Jo’burg before the final.”I asked if there was any chance of getting a visa and a lady at the embassy said ‘no, looking at the backlog, it could take 25 days,” Golding said.There was no rest for the red and blacks as they prepare for their clash with the Lions.He was told that the only hope of getting the documentation fast-tracked was if he a family emergency in South Africa. Golding didn’t apply for the visa earlier because he was uncertain where, or if, the Crusaders would play the final.If the Hurricanes had beaten the Lions in the semi last weekend, the final would have been staged at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.”I was hanging off to try and make sure the team were going to get there,” Golding added.”It’s a shame. It has always been on my bucket list to go to South Africa. As a New Zealand rugby fan, it is one of those places you want to go to see a game. It is just too hard to do it at late notice.”The South African government have introduced the visa changes in a tit-for-tat response to similar measures introduced by New Zealand.Loyal Crusaders supporter Robin Leary, of Christchurch, will attend the final because he had secured his visa several months ago – not that he was planning so far ahead at the time.Leary had originally planned to support the Crusaders’ during their two-match tour of Pretoria and Bloemfontein on April 30 and May 7 but never left New Zealand because the documentation didn’t arrive until after the team had returned.Experience Travel, the official travel company of the Crusaders, acknowledged it was difficult to make arrangements for supporters with such a tight turnaround.”We are trying to work through dispensation at late notice,” spokesman David Redmond said. “But it is unlikely given the time frame.”Travelling fans are not the only ones to suffer. The Crusaders, who required a replacement for Kieran Read after he broke his thumb in Bloemfontein, surprisingly whistled-up Sumner club back rower Dylan Nel.Coach Scott Robertson explained it was because Nel, who holds a South African passport, didn’t have to go through the rigmarole of applying for a visa and could leave Christchurch immediately.An error on the visa for Chiefs midfielder Alex Nankivell resulted in him being turned away from South Africa prior to the quarterfinal against the Stormers in Cape Town. His visa was dated to expire on 31/06/2017, while the rest of the squad’s was stamped 31/08/2017.”It was a clerical error from Wellington and there was absolutely no flexibility from the South African border and they said he had to be sent back to the port that he came back from, which was Sydney,” Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said at the time.Nankivell had to return to Wellington to get his passport amended. The Chiefs called up Chase Tialata as cover. Photo by: FAIRFAX NZ (Rugby fan Grant Golding, pictured with his children Kyan (left) and Anamika at a Canterbury game in 2015, has flagged hopes of supporting the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final).last_img

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