CRL GRAND FINAL WEEKEND A TESTAMENT TO COMMUNITY SPIRIT
Canterbury Rugby League’s 2020 Grand Final weekend is the climax of a club season like no other before it, presenting a unique and unprecedented set of obstacles that required an extraordinary level of commitment, cooperation and flexibility from everyone involved in our game.
The six-game schedule kicks off at Ngā Puna Wai on Saturday morning with the 11 and 12 Years grades’ Grand Finals, followed by the Gore Cup Final between Eastern Eagles and Papanui Tigers at 2pm.
Sunday’s Grand Final triple-header gets underway at Ngā Puna Wai with the CRL Women’s Grand Final between Sydenham Swans and Woolston Rams at 11am. The Canterbury Cup Premier Reserves Grand Final at 1.30pm sees Northern Bulldogs and Linwood Keas square off.
Then it’s the big one at 3.30pm on Sunday: Linwood Keas aim for five straight Pat Smith Trophy triumphs in the CRL Men’s Premiership Grand Final, facing a Northern Bulldogs side searching for the club’s first title since its maiden 2007 success.
Unlike last year’s historic Grand Final Day at Ngā Puna Wai, the new home of Canterbury Rugby League, we will be unable to welcome a bumper crowd to celebrate our biggest occasion of the season. The New Zealand Government’s current Level 2 COVID-19 restrictions mean the number of attendees will be significantly reduced and limited; spectator access to the Grand Finals at Ngā Puna Wai will be prearranged through the clubs involved.
We courteously ask (and thank in advance) those allowed to attend adhere to all instructions and appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures.
“The 2020 Grand Final weekend is unfortunately occurring under COVID-19 restrictions this year but that should be measured against the fact that at one stage all community sport was looking unlikely for this year,” says Canterbury Rugby League CEO Duane Fyfe.
“The work that has gone into putting teams on the field post-lockdown has been tremendous by all those involved, and despite all the challenges a rewarding season of grassroots footy has materialised due to many hardworking people behind the scenes and on the sidelines.”
Only a few short months ago, the prospect of staging a local rugby league campaign of any significance in Canterbury – or anywhere in New Zealand – appeared remote as the nation entered a seven-week lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But after moving down to Level 2 on 13 May, a 10-match regular season commenced on 20 June.
At every club the dedication of the coaches and players to get ready for a season on severely limited preparation, the outstanding work of the administrators and volunteers to undertake their tasks in a changed (and frequently changing) landscape to which they are accustomed to, and the supporters’ ongoing encouragement and assistance has been integral to the season running as smoothly as it has. As always, our match officials and match managers have gone above and beyond to show their devotion to rugby league.
“We’re extremely proud of what the Canterbury Rugby League community has achieved in 2020 – CRL extends a heartfelt thank you to everyone involved in keeping our game going this year,” says Fyfe.
Canterbury Rugby League’s fulltime staff – already working remotely, as they have for the entire 2020 season – was reduced from five to three after the decision was made to not replace departing staff members Olivia Sherwood and George Lajpold, due to financial strain brought on by the pandemic. The team has worked diligently and resolutely under difficult circumstances to make a season happen.
While we can’t all be at Ngā Puna Wai to bring the curtain down on the club season together, we’re looking forward to what will undoubtedly be another memorable Grand Final weekend.
There’s also still plenty of rugby league to come in 2020 beyond this weekend courtesy of the representative schedule.
The Canterbury 11 Years, 12 Years, 14 Years (boys and girls teams), 16 Years and 18 Years teams have South Island tournaments coming up. Meanwhile, the three-round NZRL National Premiership will unfold in October, for the first time featuring a Women’s competition run concurrently with the Men’s.
The Canterbury Bulls and Canterbury Women’s teams will take on their Counties Manukau counterparts at Ngā Puna Wai on Saturday, 3 October; the Waikato/Mid Central teams at Ngā Puna Wai on Sunday, 11 October; and Akarana Falcons men’s and women’s teams in Auckland on Saturday, 17 October.
Stay tuned for further information, with the hope that we will be able to welcome unrestricted crowds back to Ngā Puna Wai and finish the season together.
CANTERBURY RUGBY LEAGUE GRAND FINAL WEEKEND SCHEDULE
Saturday, 12 September @ Ngā Puna Wai
9.30am – CRL 11 Years Grand Final: Riccarton Knights v Celebration Lions
11am – CRL 12 Years Grand Final: Celebration Lions v Hornby Panthers
2pm – CRL Gore Cup Final: Eastern Eagles v Papanui Tigers
Sunday, 13 September @ Ngā Puna Wai
11am – CRL Women’s Premiership Grand Final: Sydenham Swans v Woolston Rams
1.30pm – CRL Canterbury Cup Grand Final: Northern Bulldogs v Linwood Keas
3.30pm – CRL Men’s Premiership Grand Final: Linwood Keas v Northern Bulldogs