Positive play by both sides over Rugby Park

The future of Invercargill's Rugby Park is on shaky ground after the council decided last week to...
The future of Invercargill's Rugby Park is on shaky ground after the council decided last week to cease maintenance and safety works, saving about $3 million in the process. Photo: supplied
Positive progress has been made on the Rugby Park saga in Invercargill but there is no guarantee the park will stay.

At its long-term plan hearing last week, the Invercargill City Council decided to put a hold on funding repairing and maintenance of the park to cut costs. That blindsided the union, which felt the council had given assurances over repairing the park.

Rugby bosses and Mayor Nobby Clark, along with council staff and representatives, met yesterday to talk about the park and its future. Rugby Southland chairman Murray Brown said it was a very productive meeting and a way forward had been found.

"I think we cleared the air and it was a positive meeting on both sides. Last week we acted like teenagers but now we have grown into adults and there was some good exchange of ideas," Mr Brown said.

The council had committed to carrying out a small amount of remedial work on stabilising one end of the stand at the park and also carry out some quick work on the roof.

"We talked between two groups and what do we want for the future of rugby. The game is facing some challenges over the next two to five years. We talked about what do we need in terms of facilities," Mr Brown said.

The game was was being pulled apart at a national level with a disagreement over governance issues after a report recommended totally independent directors on the board with pushback against that idea coming from provincial unions.

There was also talk about what the national provincial championship would look like after the broadcasting deal ran out next year, Mr Brown said.

Rugby Southland would be part of the discussion in what sort of main outdoor facility was needed in Southland, and it was good to get a commitment from key people in the council to recognise that.

The union could not confirm Rugby Park was here to stay but it was about what was the best outdoor stadium for the community, he said.

That would involve a broad range of work.

Mr Clark could not be reached for comment yesterday.