Hurricanes about to be welcomed over the border in Chiefs territory

Border Rugby Club members David Lawrence, Chris Amon and Guy Lennox have done the hard yards to get Waverley's Dallison ...
SIMON O'CONNOR/Fairfax NZ

Border Rugby Club members David Lawrence, Chris Amon and Guy Lennox have done the hard yards to get Waverley's Dallison Park ready to welcome the Hurricanes and the Crusaders.

For a man who has spent several months slightly stressing about hosting the Hurricanes at his country rugby club, Guy Lennox cut a pretty calm figure on the eve of their preseason rugby match against the Crusaders.

Sure, the sweat stains were evident under the sun faded cap, the work clothes bore plenty of evidence of some of the toil in getting Border's ground ready for the big day, but Lennox was far from fretting.

Almost eight months have past since the former Wanganui and New Zealand Heartland XV coach thought he was victim of a prank after receiving several emails from the Hurricanes expressing an interest in playing in Waverley, the tiny south Taranaki settlement where just 1000 people call home.

"I just thought it was one of those junk emails, so I just ignored it," he said. "It came back again, so I ignored it again and just I kept putting it in the trash box."

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The offer was not going to be binned, though, with the idea quickly taking shape in Lennox's mind as he contemplated two of Super Rugby's powerhouses hitting town.

With the support of Farmlands the dream burst into reality for many of the town's rugby folk with 4500 fans about to enjoy some country hospitality ahead of the preseason match that will feature a heap of All Blacks as well as Beauden and Jordie Barrett playing together for the Hurricanes for the first time.

While some observers have labelled the Hurricanes move over the "Border" into Taranaki a bit on the cheeky side, given the province's rugby union aligned itself with the Chiefs several years ago, the folk of Waverley clearly don't give a hoot.

Nor do the owners of the Main St Cafe, the 4Square or the town's famous old pub the Clarendon Hotel who collectively will be flooded like never before.

"They [Hurricanes] are clearly trying to keep the support," Lennox added. "That makes sense and you have to remember we play in the Wanganui comp that is part of the Hurricanes franchise and there is a lot of people in Taranaki who support them, especially around the coast with the Barretts."

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Logistically the Border boys were not given a to do list and apart from a couple of meetings and an honest measure of the ground and its surroundings, the burning issue between the two groups was just how many people could the park hold.

About 500 "corporates" will be squeezed into the clubrooms and adjourning hall, 200 in the freshly painted grandstand, while more than 3500 will either stand or take the comfort of the hay bales that ring the ground or the temporary seating that has been borrowed from Wanganui Collegiate.

"The key to it was could we make it work without spending money. Well, we have spent exactly zero."

That's been possible because every time a message was sent out asking for help within the community, it arrived in numbers.

"The locals have just been amazing."

 - Stuff

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