Wakatipu Rugby Club questions ground use allocation

Queenstown Recreation Ground. Photo from <i>ODT</i> files.
Queenstown Recreation Ground. Photo from <i>ODT</i> files.
A storm may be brewing over the Queenstown Recreation Ground before two Rugby World Cup teams use it for training later this year, less than a month after the Parklife Invitational snow event is held there.

The Wakatipu Rugby Club expects to be booted off its home ground to keep the playing surface in pristine condition before Georgia and Romania arrive in Queenstown.

Georgia will arrive on September 5 and Romania on September 11, both teams to train on the recreation ground, while the English and Irish sides will train at the Queenstown Events Centre.

Wakatipu Rugby Club president Damien O'Connell said the club was informed some time ago the ground would cease to be its home ground in the weeks before the RWC, the ground also being used to stage the Classic All Blacks v Classic France game on September 18.

"Basically, for the Rugby World Cup that's the new training venue and they want to keep the rec ground in the best condition they can," Mr O'Connell said.

"Once the weather packs up, the groundsman will decide how long we're there for; once it starts chewing up we'll have to get off it."

While the rugby club understood the reasoning, it did not understand the theory behind the Parklife event being held on the pitch on August 12, Mr O'Connell said.

The annual event, which features freeskiers and snowboarders on ramps and railings, was originally held on the Brecon St stairs in central Queenstown, but quickly outgrew that site.

It then moved to Earnslaw Park, but is now attracting thousands of spectators.

Organiser NZSki had to find an alternative site and chose the recreation ground.

"Because of the RWC, we [the rugby club] are prepared to move ... but to shove the skiing thing on there?

"We knew that was happening ... but it seems funny they're going to kick us off and put snow on.

"We have expressed our disappointment about it, but there's not a hell of a lot we can do about it," Mr O'Connell said.

NZSki chief executive James Coddington said the Parklife Invitational would be held to coincide with the official opening of the Winter Games.

"We obviously wanted to do Queenstown credit ... and Winter Games credit, so we looked for alternative venues and it's ... on the rugby ground."

NZSki sales and marketing general manager Craig Douglas discussions had been under way with the council and Lakes Leisure on the plan for "many, many months".

"We've got their support and we haven't lodged [a resource consent application] yet, but there are a lot of people sitting there waiting for it."

Mr Douglas said NZSki had been looking at "a variety" of options to protect the ground, which could include matting or plywood.


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