Union disappointed no liquor licence for first Magpies game

By Simon Hendery

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Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

Many spectators at McLean Park for the first Magpies ITM Cup home game of the season will have to go without a beer because the rugby union missed the deadline to apply for a liquor licence by one day.

No alcohol can be served at the park's ground bars when the Magpies play Taranaki on August 22, because the union applied for the licence one working day too late.

However, spectators in "behind the glass" areas, including the Pettigrew lounge and Graeme Lowe Stand lounges, along with those attending a pre-match dinner on the grounds, will still be able to have a drink through a separate caterer's licence.

Hawke's Bay Rugby Union's chief executive, Mike Bishop, said the union had intended to have its application in during the previous week but this had not happened due to "extenuating circumstances" which he did not believe it was appropriate to make pubic.

"It's going to disappoint people who just want to come along to the rugby and have a quiet beer.

"It's a real shame the legislation doesn't allow for anything in terms of flexibility," he said.

"It's going to be disappointing and frustrating for them on the night but unfortunately there's nothing we can do about it on that occasion.

"We tried. For every other occasion during the season we're covered and there will be no problem."

Liquor laws require special licences to serve liquor at venues such as McLean Park be lodged at least 20 days before the event.

Hawke's Bay Rugby Union lodged applications for licences for all this season's ITM Cup home matches on July 28, which the Napier District Licensing Committee said in a ruling was "outside the required filing time" for the August 22, event by one working day. Mr Bishop said the ground bars would be open on the night but would only sell non-alcoholic refreshments, he said.

"We were intending to promote the game as a family-friendly game anyway, with the aim of testing the temporary seating put up for the upcoming test [between the All Blacks and Argentina on September 6].

"In those areas where there are families we'd prefer for them not to have alcohol anyway."

Mr Bishop said talks had been held with Napier City Council and police to try to find a solution but without success.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said the council's hands were tied because the licence application was lodged late.

"You just have to abide by the rules," he said.

"As somebody who enjoys an occasional drink, I don't think it's absolutely essential that people have to drink during a rugby match.

"You can have a drink before and after.

"I know it's an important part of the occasion for some and I'm sure the rugby union will in future ensure they get their application in on time," Mr Dalton said.

"There's an assumption, from applicants for these special licences, particularly from sporting organisations, that there is flexibility in the rules and we can bend the rules for some. There is no flexibility in the rules."

The Magpies open their ITM Cup campaign against the Tasman Makos in Blenheim tomorrow.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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