Highlanders to play in Invercargill in June
The Highlanders Super Rugby team will play in Invercargill after all.
The Highlanders will play a New Zealand Barbarians team at Rugby Park in Invercargill on Friday, June 20, at 6.30pm.
The game is being used as a hitout for the Highlanders during the June test window when the Super Rugby competition takes a break.
The Barbarians will be coached by Stags coach Brad Mooar, and managed by Rugby Southland life member Leicester Rutledge.
Like traditional Barbarian teams, there is expected to be an international flavour to the selection along with some promising Stags squad members and players from other New Zealand provinces.
The game should give Mooar the ideal chance to look at some Southland players at a higher level leading into the provincial season.
A Southland invitational team played the Highlanders in Dunedin last year in the same type of situation after the Otago Rugby Union pulled out because it didn't want players having to play in the game the day before club rugby.
Some Southland players in that Barbarians team will have that scenario again this year, playing on the Friday night before playing club rugby the next day.
Coach Jamie Joseph was pleased the Barbarians fixture would allow them to play in Invercargill this season after all.
"It will be great to get down to Invercargill and show the Southland people how we have progressed as a team since 2013. This is an important game for us as we build into our first game back after the June break against the Chiefs."
There will be a Highlanders first XV competition curtain-raiser between Eastern Southland schools Menzies College and St. Peter's College.
Invercargill was left off the Highlanders Super Rugby schedule this year, with officials opting to play all home games in Dunedin, for commercial reasons.
Rugby Southland general manager Brian Hopley said they were unlikely to receive any major financial spinoffs from the game but said it was good to have a fixture like this to help with the profile of rugby in the province.
"It is a good profile thing for us and especially having Brad [Mooar] as coach of the Barbarians, it adds to it as well," Hopley said.
"It is good for us to have a game in Southland like this because I think it's important the Highlanders keep their link with Southland."
Members and sponsors will receive preferential ticketing from this Friday for the fixture before public sales start on May 23.
Tickets will be available online and from all Ticket Direct outlets.
The pricing is $20 for adults, $10 for secondary school students (13-18 years), and free for children 12 years and under.
- The Southland Times