Buzz in the air ahead of big game

03:28, Jun 24 2011
Suzy Evans
TRUE COLOURS: Nelsonian and Crusaders fan Suzy Evans lets the world know who she is supporting.

Tomorrow's Crusaders v Sharks playoff will be the biggest game Nelson has ever hosted, and there is "no reason not to go", Tasman Rugby Union commercial and marketing manager Les Edwards says.

With only half the available tickets sold today, Tasman Rugby Union staff are hoping for a last-minute surge today and tomorrow.

Mr Edwards said Thursday had been a slow day in terms of ticket sales, with just 410 sold.

He blamed poor weather and fears the Sharks may not make it to Nelson for hampering sales, but he was confident of a big day today.

"We're halfway there. Today's the day, and tomorrow as well. We're back to usual sunny Nelson weather, and the Sharks are here."

The game would be the biggest sporting event Nelson had hosted, and a fantastic opportunity to see Super final rugby.


"It won't probably come to Nelson again in a while. It'll be a magnificent experience; whether you love rugby or not the entertainment value will be worth coming along for," Mr Edwards said.

This is the last chance to see the All Blacks in the Crusaders' team before the World Cup.

The fun would begin well before kickoff, he said.

"They're bringing their crusaders and the black knights, they're bringing their mascot, they're bringing their cheerleaders, there's a big-screen TV. It's just great entertainment."

Mr Edwards said he hoped to see a packed stadium come kickoff, with the national spotlight falling on the town.

"Show your support for the Cantabrians and the Crusaders and help make Nelson look good on television," he said.

"There's no reason not to come."

At least 1000 people were coming up from Christchurch for the game, and after a tough few weeks for the city, he said the hope was that Nelson would show them a good night.

A quick walk around Nelson this morning revealed a town buzzing about the game.

New World Nelson check-out manager Paula Jones said ticket sales had begun to pick up again this morning, and there was a buzz in the air.

"There's an excitement, especially now that they know that the Sharks are here."

Trailways Hotel general manager and Crusaders supporter Garry Munro said he could not wait for the game to begin, and he did not think he was alone.

The game was bringing the city together for an exciting event, Mr Munro said. "Everyone you talk to is really buzzy about the whole thing. It's like the WearableArts, everyone in the city is looking forward to it actually happening."

Dedicated Crusaders fan Suzy Evans of Nelson has travelled far and wide with husband Charles, a Cantabrian, to make it to Crusaders games during the season.

She was there in Timaru when they defeated the Blues, and in Wellington the following week when they trounced the Hurricanes.

She was in no doubt about the result this time. "We're gonna win."

Plenty of Nelsonians wore red and black today to show support for the Crusaders.

The Big Game: Crusaders v Sharks, 7.35pm kickoff, Trafalgar Park

Weather: The MetService predicts mainly fine weather for the game, with southerly breezes and a very low chance of rain.

Roads: Trafalgar St will be closed to traffic from 5pm to 10pm on match day between Grove St and Wainui St. Grove St and Wainui St will be open as usual. The section of Trafalgar St between Grove St and Halifax St will be closed for about 20 minutes after the end of the game to allow free flow of pedestrians back into the city. Hathaway Tce will be closed from 6.30am until 10pm on Saturday except to residents. Elliot St will be closed at the intersection with Trafalgar St from 5pm until 10pm. Access for residents will be available via Collingwood St. Drop-off zones will be provided on Wainui St just east of the intersection with Trafalgar St, in front of numbers 1-5 and 2-6. Similarly, drop-off zones will be provided on Grove St just east of the intersection with Trafalgar St in front of numbers 1-5 and 2-6.

Parking: Cars parked on Trafalgar St between Grove St and Wainui St must be removed by 5pm or they will be towed away at the owner's expense. Parking is not permitted on State Highway 6. No parking will be available on the grassed areas.

Arrival: Fans should arrive at least an hour before kickoff to ensure they are seated in the reconfigured stands.

The Nelson Mail