Players wanted final to go ahead
27 May 2006
Consideration was given to delaying the Vodacom Super 14 final because of the fog that rendered visibility almost nil in Christchurch, but the players wanted to play the final.
The match was a disaster as a spectacle and paying spectators at the ground and a global television audience couldn’t see much of the game.
But a combination of goodwill from the players and difficulties in rearranging the schedule meant the final was played. The conditions were so bad that many in the crowd left the stadium to try and get a better view from television broadcasts at local pubs. They would have been none the wiser.
New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Streve tew said once it was determined neither the players or crowd were at risk from the conditions, it was decided to go ahead with the match as planned.
Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said there were no issues as far as the players were concerned before kick-off and the match officials were happy for the game to go ahead as planned.
There had been consideration to either delay the start in the hope of conditions improving later in the night or postponing the match until Sunday afternoon.
But the logistics of having the sellout crowd reassemble on Sunday was too difficult.
“At the end of the day we felt that after consultation with the New Zealand Rugby Union, Sanzar, the broadcaster and (sponsors) Rebel Sport that we should proceed,” Riach told Sky Sport.
An hour before kick-off, a thick fog descended on Jade Stadium and it got thicker as the match progressed.
MsnXtra.co.nz reports that the Sky Sport commentators were left with a nightmare as Grant Nisbett and Murray Mexted tried to call the match.
Eventually play on the opposite side of the field to their commentary position became completely impossible for them to call. Sideline commentator Tony Johnson was sent around to call the game from there.
It was just as difficult for the players and it became a huge anticlimax for such an anticipated clash.
High kicks disappeared into the mist. They frequently landed in space as defenders struggled to get under them. Others were knocked on as the players had to use split second reflexes to try to catch the ball.
Victorious skipper Richie McCaw said conditions were “unbelievably hard”.
“I don’t know what the crowd could see because it was tough for us out there,” he said. “We had to keep it a wee bit tighter. I guess it wasn’t pretty but we got there in the end.”
Hurricanes captain Rodney So’oialo said they felt a duty to play the match despite the conditions.
“Both teams were keen to play. We didn’t want to disappoint the fans,” said So’oialo. “It was very difficult. You could hardy see the ball. But both teams played well considering the conditions.”