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A small group of fans have plenty of seats from which to choose in the South Stand at Forsyth...
A small group of fans have plenty of seats from which to choose in the South Stand at Forsyth Barr Stadium at last Friday night’s Mitre 10 Cup match between Otago and Northland. Photo: Peter McIntosh
The Mitre 10 Cup is not drawing crowds through the gate across the country and a lack of stars and unfriendly kick-off times is not helping.

Ideally, Otago would love to host all its games on Saturday or Sunday afternoons and is hoping for a better crowd for its next game.

But the Mitre 10 Cup appears to be struggling to get people through the gate in a competition which is falling some steps behind Super Rugby.

Otago  recorded a crowd of 2500 for its first game against Hawke’s Bay on August 24 and there were  3500 there for last Friday night’s game against Northland.

Both games kicked off at 5.45pm on a Friday, an earlier kick-off time than usual.

Two games are played on Friday nights when an All Black test is played in New Zealand the following night.

Otago Rugby Football Union general manager Richard Kinley said there had been differing comments on the earlier kick-off time.

"Some people that we have spoken to have been very happy with the time. They are able to bring some people down straight from work and go to the game,’’ Kinley said.

"But that first game against Hawke’s Bay was disappointing and there was a thought that people were not connecting with the earlier kick-off time.’’

He said many rural supporters might struggle to get to a game starting at 5.45pm on a Friday.

Otago’s next home game is against Canterbury on Saturday, September 22, kicking off at 5.05pm.

This game will be a double header as the Otago Spirit takes on Counties-Manukau, also at the stadium, at 2pm.

Kinley said a Saturday or Sunday afternoon or late afternoon kick-off was ideal as it gave people time to arrive and also did not go too late.

The union did not budget a lot for crowds but every spectator coming through the gate was a bonus.

The crowds have not been arriving big numbers in other centres.

Southland’s first two home games at Rugby Park attracted about 2200 for each game.

In New Plymouth, where the two main stands are out of use because of earthquake risk, just 4000 fans turned up for the first Ranfurly Shield defence against Manawatu.

In Auckland’s game against Tasma, last Friday night, all spectators were housed in the one stand at Eden Park, which cut down on costs.

Kinley said it was not able to put all spectators in one stand as many season ticket holders wanted to sit in the North Stand. Many season ticket holders wanted the same seat for games involving Otago, Highlanders and the All Black test.Kinley was hopeful a good crowd would turn up for the game against Canterbury which was also tied in with its heritage weekend.

The union is celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the Otago side winning the domestic championship and the Otago Rebels winning the national title.

Otago’s other two home games are against Bay of Plenty on a Wednesday night on October 3, kicking off at 7.35pm, and against Tasman four days later at 4.35pm.


The truth is there is to much rugby.

A sign of the times I guess especially for games at awkward times. Mitre 10 cup games are at least one step down from Super rugby but are still a good watch. Hopefully Otago get a decent crowd for the Canterbury game, Otago s overdue for a win v the Red n Blacks and supporters will be missing out if they finally manage to roll the Cantabs. I d love to be there but unfortunately and ironically have other commitments.

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