Stags to miss home crowd

Rugby Park Stadium will be a lot quieter when the Southland Stags take on Canterbury this weekend due to Invercargill being at Alert Level 2. Photo: Getty Images

WHILE it might be the Southland Stags’ first home game after the Covid-19 lockdown, only a select few will be able to attend the game in Invercargill on Saturday.

Rugby Southland marketing co-ordinator Jack King said because of the city being at Alert Level 2 with guidelines around people in spaces, when the ball was kicked off at 2.05pm there would be 400 fans and sponsors at the ground to see the game.

“There will be sponsors, 500 Club members and family of the players, it’s quite important we have them there as well.

“We’ve pretty much exhausted what we can safely do within the guidelines.”

He said the Stags management team was equally disappointed they couldn’t have more spectators at the game.

The National Provincial Championship season screeched to a halt when New Zealand was put in to Alert Level 4 lockdown after the Covid-19 Delta variant reared its head in Auckland.

This was just ahead of the Stags’ home game against Counties Manukau.

The season rebooted last weekend for some NPC teams, but this will be the Stags’ first outing since its resumption. King was encouraging those who did not get entry to the game to support local.

“Just because you can’t get along to the game doesn’t mean you can’t gather up the crew and get along to the pub and watch the game.”

Southland Stags self-confessed “tragic” Andrew Dixon said he was waiting to hear tomorrow if he had made the cut as a spectator for Saturday’s game.

He said all members had to email Rugby Southland to go in a ballot for tickets to the game and he was hoping his name would be pulled out.

“I haven’t missed a Stags home game in over 40 years and I’m only 51,” he said.

“NPC is what we love in Southland.”

He was part of the “hard core” Staggers Bar crew who faithfully followed the Southland team throughout the season.

The August lockdown also had big repercussions on community rugby in the south.

Age group finals along with playoff games, which were scheduled to be played at the end of August, were called off and all finals were cancelled.

The highest qualifiers in each grade from season’s play were named as winners.