READER REPORT:

Hurricanes, where are you?

ADAM JULIAN
Last updated 05:00 18/03/2014
Rugby

DREAM TRIO: The most famous and well-loved Hurricanes backline included of Tana Umaga, Christian Cullen and Jonah Lomu.

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It's February 25, 2000 and the excitement in Wellington is palpable. The night is balmy and young. Scores of people flock to the brand new Westpac Stadium to catch the Hurricanes' first game at the Cake Tin against the Sharks.

The rock stars are out tonight: Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen and tana Umaga line up for the home team.

Such is the clamour to reach the venue on time, traffic prevents my friends and I from reaching our seats before kick-off. Thank god for the wireless! The dulcet tones of Graeme Moody capture the early buzz as we scamper down the concourse.

Those early days were heady. The team was up and down, like they always are, but the Hurricanes were the hottest ticket in town. Win, lose or draw a big crowd and plenty of entertainment was guaranteed.

The average crowd for Westpac Stadium games in 2000 was 27,520. Between, 2001-2004 the stadium was sold out for a third of all Hurricanes games and up until 2006 Hurricanes games never failed to attract less than 20,000.

Then the bubble burst! The air changed in Wellington. The music died!

Players don't want a bar of the capital and haven't for some time now.

Robbie Fruean, Jamison Gibson-Park, Brendan O'Connor, Kane Barrett, Charlie Ngatai, Andrew Horrell, Nick Crosswell, Ross Filipo, Ben Tameifuna, Hikawera Elliot, Mahonri Schwalger, Ma'a Nonu, Piri Weepu, Israel Dagg, Zac Guildford, Adam Whitelock, George Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Kurt Baker, Jason Emery, Shaun Treeby, Aaron Cruden, Willie Ripia, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Frae Wilson, TJ Ioane, Chris King, Jed Robinson, Jason Woodward, Tamati Ellison, Scott Fuglistaller, Alby Mathewson and Richard Buckman are players who have either represented the Hurricanes in the past and moved on, or could have been Hurricanes by virtue of playing provincial, club or secondary school rugby in the franchise's catchment base.

There are 15 All Blacks in that list. You can't have everybody, but how did all four Whitelock brothers get a one way ticket from Feilding to Christchurch?

The list above doesn't include top class coaches who have deserted the Canes either. Dave Rennie, John Plumtree, Aussie McLean, Josef Schmidt, where are you? Taranaki, where are you?

Crowds have tumbled. The biggest crowd for a Hurricanes game at the Stadium since 2009 has been 23,539.

People, where are you?

The global recession hurt. Hurricanes officials generously supply other teams with our talent and stadium management never listens. They still insist on supplying exorbitantly priced food and over-zealous security guards.

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People, where are you?

Going to a Hurricanes game now reminds me of the Monorail episode on the Simpsons.

It looks great on the surface, but really it's a train wreck!

What happened to Lyle Lanley? Does he run the Hurricanes?


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