IT was a day of celebration for an Invercargill boy and Southland Stags fans.
The Southland team returned home to play at Rugby Park, beating North Harbour 11-10, and 3-year-old Eli Taia was there to see it.
His grandfather Arthur Adlam said Eli loved to watch the game and play with the rugby ball, so it was an incredible opportunity to be able to take him to his first game.
Mr Adlam gave Eli his first Southland Stags jersey.
“It is great to be back here in the park as it is a completely different atmosphere than watching the games on TV. It is much more fun.
“It is good to meet friends, watch some rugby… and today is more special for me because it is the first time I brought Eli with me.”
Eli could not hide his enthusiasm. He had a blast during the match and posed with Southland Stags’ mascot Steve-O.
The pair were among the big crowd who supported Southland during the Mitre 10 Cup match.
Rugby Southland marketing co-ordinator Jack King said it was “one of the biggest crowds” during the past few years and the fans made the difference.
“A very passionate and vocal crowd exactly what we were after.
“At the final stages of the game, the crowd picked up and led the boys where they needed to.
“I’ve got no doubt without the crowds crowd getting behind the boys and turning up to the game story. So yes… it was awesome to have the fans back.”