Graffiti wiped in nick of time

By Kristin Edge

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Only hours before a Northland school boy rugby match was televised live to thousands of viewers organisers had to scrub a trail of red graffiti from the scoreboard and banners around the playing field.

"Idiots" who tried to sabotage the live coverage of the Mason Cup between Whangarei Boys' High School and Kamo High School last Saturday failed as organisers banded together to clean off the spraypaint.

Whangarei Boys' High School sports co-ordinator Rod Cunliffe had spent the past year planning and organising the event and was devastated to arrive at the school grounds about 8am to find the graffiti. Kickoff was at 2.45pm.

"This is the biggest occasion for Boys' High for a while. We don't want it to taint the event but we can't let it go unnoticed," Mr Cunliffe said.

"We were in the spotlight. What would it have said to the rest of the country with all that vandalism."

He said seeing the mess made his blood boil.

There was red paint on the scaffolding tower to be used by the Sky camera crew and banners on the tower were also tagged.

A new scoreboard was also covered in red.

But with the help of the school caretaker and a sponsor and facilitator Deb Mair, the offending paint was gone by the time the cameras rolled.

"This is such an opportunity for our outstanding young players to get exposure to talent scouts."

Ms Mair, of Wild Haggis, said there were also a number of businesses on Bank St that had been tagged with red as well as the school's gym. She managed to get a special gel that made the removal of paint easier.

"We all wanted it to be right and didn't want to give these idiots any television exposure. We all pulled together and scrubbed it all off. It was our chance to showcase our rugby talent and showcase the fact we can hold an event like this in Whangarei."

A crowd of more than 300 watched the action unfold as did thousands of more viewers on television without a trace of red graffiti.

Whangarei Boys' High School were the eventual victors 22-15.

And feedback from Sky commentators was positive with them saying they had not seen a match with such intensity and grit for a long time.

If you have information about who did this contact Whangarei police on 09 430 4500.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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