Davies takes pragmatic approach to losing landmark test

The game was to have been played at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo: PETER MCINTOSH
The 100th test between the great rugby rivals was supposed to be played at Forsyth Barr Stadium (pictured) on Saturday - 100 years since the first test, at Carisbrook. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH (file)
Terry Davies admits he will have a little knot in the pit his stomach when he watches the All Blacks play a landmark test against the Springboks in, of all places, Townsville this weekend.

However, the Dunedin Venues Management Ltd chief executive also says it is time to move on, and he is optimistic bright and booming times lie ahead.

The 100th test between the great rugby rivals was supposed to be played at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday - 100 years since the first test, at Carisbrook  - but was a casualty of the Covid-19 surge and closure of the transtasman bubble.

Terry Davies. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Terry Davies. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Instead, the All Blacks and Springboks will clash in the Rugby Championship test at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, and as a curtainraiser to the Wallabies-Pumas game.

It will not be quite the same atmosphere, one can only presume, as what Dunedin would have turned on with 29,000 fans under the roof.

"It was such a hot ticket in town," Davies said yesterday, preparing for a week just a little quieter than it should have been.

"It was going to be a memorable occasion for so many people.

"Obviously it’s disappointing. We would have loved to have hosted this event, and we would have delivered it brilliantly, as we always do.

"It will be a little bit brutal watching the game this weekend. There’s a bit of jealousy, and a pang of sadness because it was going to be so great in Dunedin.

"But it’s just one of those things. Look at the environment we’re operating in at the moment - every day is different.

"I think you have to be pretty pragmatic about where you are, and have that flexibility and open mind around how we operate in this industry. All you can do is do your best, because these are extraordinary times."

The Dunedin test had been expected to attract a capacity crowd of 29,000.

Fans who bought tickets were offered full refunds by Ticketek, and Davies assumed that process had been "fairly seamless"as he had not heard of any issues.

It was estimated the Springbok test would have pumped $15 million into the Dunedin economy.

Davis said the stadium now had to focus on getting as many events - entertainment and sport - if and when borders started opening in a post-vaccine world.

"We’ve got our head around the rugby disappointment and it’s time to move forward.

"We want to grab everything we can and look at when we can start opening borders up and get some of these big shows back in town.

"It’s very challenging, but it’s about managing your business for the recovery, and that will come sooner or later.

"We’re keeping proactive, and I’ve got the greatest confidence, when we get back to some sort of normality, we’re going to have an incredibly strong 36 or 48 months.

"We’ve proved we can deliver major events incredibly well in Dunedin. We’ve got music promoters who want to come here, and New Zealand Rugby wants to come here."

The Dunedin stadium was able to host the Fiji test in July but its crowd was relatively low - 15,000 - as many supporters were saving their dollars for the bigger test.

Ireland is scheduled to play a three-test series in New Zealand next year, while it will be hoped the Rugby Championship can be scheduled as normal.

"We will grab what we can grab when we can," Davies said.

Dunedin might have lost the opportunity to host the 100th test between the All Blacks and Springboks but that does not mean we should ignore the occasion.

This week, the Otago Daily Times will look back on 10 memorable tests, name a combined XV from a century of rivalry, talk to a couple of former All Blacks who know what it means, and have the latest news out of the All Blacks’ camp in Queensland.





"We will grab what we can grab when we can," Davies said. Ratepayer's dollars?


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