FIRST FIXTURES FOR NGĀ PUNA WAI’S RL 1 FIELD AND GRANDSTAND
Canterbury Rugby League ticks off another notable milestone at its new home, Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub, on Monday courtesy of the first matches played on the Rugby League 1 ground with use of the grandstand.
Four 18s grade teams – Linwood v Hornby (6.20pm) and Haeata/Eastern v Halswell (7.40pm) – will have the honour of featuring in the trailblazing fixtures on June 24.
“After all the work and weather-caused frustrations, it is significant to finally have use of the grandstand and play on the number one field,” CRL CEO Duane Fyfe says.
“Not just for rugby league, but also the construction companies, workers, Sport Canterbury and Christchurch City Council, who have had a large stake in this project.
“It’s also significant that youth grade teams will be the first to christen the field – they are the next generation of senior players and this facility will serve them well going into the future.”
CRL’s 16s and 18s grades have played their Monday night games at Ngā Puna Wai since the start of the 2019 season on the athletics and community fields.
Ngā Puna Wai also hosted the Rockcote Canterbury Bulls’ match against the Warriors’ reserve grade team in February, and the men’s and women’s East v West representative fixtures on Queen’s Birthday weekend.
The facilities have earned rave reviews, despite the delay in using the Rugby League 1 field and grandstand.
“Just through the 16s and 18s playing on the athletics and community fields, there have been very positive responses from coaches and managers – particularly pertaining to the standard of lighting in comparison to last year,” Fyfe reveals.
“Also the new changing rooms make a difference and are an impressive upgrade for the players.
“Regardless of the journey to date, no other 15/16s or 17/18s grades in New Zealand will have better fields or facilities to play their footy on. They will be the envy of many young players around the country.”
The age-group fixtures at Ngā Puna Wai are a precursor to the marquee senior matches – including grand finals and Bulls home games – to be played on Rugby League 1 later this year.
“With ground-use limitations in place for the first two seasons at Ngā Puna Wai, we will be restricted as to how many games we can play weekly,” Fyfe explains.
“This was always going to be the case to ensure the longevity of overall use of these fields. We can, however, stockpile playing usage. For example, if we don’t play matches on it for one week then we can play twice as many the next.
“This is the intention to ensure we can play multiple games on grand final Sunday in August, while after that the Rockcote Canterbury Bulls will play their NZRL National Premiership matches there, which will also be broadcast by Sky Sports.”