Turbos fans will not let side down

23:00, Oct 06 2009

It's been almost 20 years since Dave Kirk-Jones was a Massey University student, but he hasn't lost his passion for Manawatu.

He can still reel off the names of all the student streets and vividly remembers the trauma of 1989 when Garth Thelin's Manawatu team came within a fingernail of promotion.

Now Mr Kirk-Jones, 38, is a businessman running the family business, Mr Hire, in Auckland.

He has erected large "save our teams" signs outside the East Tamaki branch and gets continual noisy encouragement from passing motorists and people stopping to sign his petition.

Mr Kirk-Jones was not prepared just to sit at home in Auckland and see Manawatu, as well as Tasman, Counties-Manukau and Northland, go down the first-division gurgler.

"I was really disappointed because no one had organised anything nationally," he said.

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"I'm a passionate Manawatu supporter and I refuse to give in to these guys [the New Zealand Rugby Union]. The people just needed a voice."

So he called his mate, Kevin Hare, in Wellington and gave him 48 hours to produce a website.

Mr Hare is a one-man web design company and he says his pay-to-play website, worldfantasyrugby, has been a roaring success since 2001.

He created saveourteams.co.nz on time and then the activity started. It has been functioning for about a week and as of yesterday had received 6624 hits and had collected more than 4140 signatures.

They're seeking 20,000.

The top five union votes in order have been from Tasman, followed by Manawatu, Counties-Manukau, Northland and Auckland.

Kirk-Jones is sure a TV deal for next season's Air New Zealand Cup competition has yet to be signed and he's hoping the NZRU board reconsiders.

He also understands the Rugby Players Association has yet to come on board with the NZRU over the cull.

By his count, Manawatu is the fifth-most supported union in the land in spectator numbers this season.

Saveourteams.co.nz has links to every interested party, including one to the espnscrum website where the article on the subject is headlined "New Zealand Rugby Heading for Civil War".

Manawatu Standard