League Rugby Park request turned down

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 27/05/2011

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Southland Rugby League has had a request turned down to play its 2011 club final at Rugby Park despite the Stadium Outdoor Trust stressing it wanted the stadium to be viewed as a community venue rather than just a rugby complex.

Southland Rugby League president Teaukura Moetaua said he had hoped to play its showcase club event on Sunday, June 19, at Rugby Park.

The stadium is owned by the Southland Outdoor Stadium Trust and the Trust recently applied to the Invercargill City Council for a $75,000 grant to do up the existing fencing areas to Rugby World Cup standard and also asked for a further $200,000 annual grant for continuing maintenance each year for the venue. In the submission Outdoor Stadium Trust chairman Ian Tulloch stressed to the council that the venue was a community one – and did not exist just for Rugby Southland's benefit.

Tulloch again echoed those thoughts yesterday when he spoke to the The Southland Times, saying that fixtures like the rugby league final were the type of events that should be played at Rugby Park.

Tulloch had originally indicated to Moetaua that staging the league final at Rugby Park shouldn't be a problem but referred him to Rugby Southland, which deals with the day-to-day management of the venue.

When approached, Rugby Southland said the league game could not be played at Rugby Park because of Rugby World Cup games this year.

Moetaua said given the club league final is to be played on June 19, three months out from the World Cup, he was surprised the request had been declined.

Before the two World Cup games in Invercargill, five NPC games are to be played at Rugby Park, the first on July 15. There would also be a preseason game against Otago on July 8.

All up this year it is likely that 11 games of rugby will be played on the ground.

Rugby Southland commercial and marketing manager Caroline Wethey said it was limiting the use of the venue this year to ensure the turf was in top state for the two World Cup games in September.

"Given we're going to have hundreds of thousands of people watching those games from all over the world we need it be right," she said yesterday.

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- The Southland Times

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