Rugby: Cost-cutting blamed for time woes

By Greg Taipari, Gary Hamilton-Irvine

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Steamers coach Kevin Schuler
Steamers coach Kevin Schuler

Cost-cutting is in part to blame for not having a ground clock operating during the Bay of Plenty Steamers' match at the weekend.

The Steamers lost in the last minute to Ranfurly Shield holders Counties Manukau 31-30 at the Rotorua International Stadium on Sunday.

The stadium's old ground clock has been non-operational since 2005 and has been replaced by portable digital screens.

While there is an official time keeper at all ITM Cup matches, the digital screens lacked a clock and players had to ask officials how much time was left.

The game was televised live on Sky TV and the commentators gave the ground and facilities a serve.

Bay of Plenty Rugby Union operations manager Neil Alton said up to last year they had rented a digital screen supplied by the Rotorua International Stadium, which included both the time and the score.

However, to cut costs, the union decided to use a contractor to supply a screen for matches at the stadium this year, he said.

"It basically came down to costs, really."

However, the new screen did not have the capacity to display a time.

"Nothing was mentioned after the first game and this was the first time it had been an issue," he said, referring to Sunday's game.

He said they planned to fix the problem next year, to include a game clock for players and spectators.

Alton said it would be great to get the stadium's old ground clock going again for next season, which is positioned at the northern end of the stadium.

However, Rotorua Events and Venues manager Crispian Stewart, who manages the stadium, said the ground clock was "not fixable".

He said they would perhaps look at replacing the old ground clock with a permanent screen in the future, but it would be expensive and would have to be what ratepayers wanted.

Stewart said they rented out a portable digital screen for people to use, which displayed the time, but the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union had decided to use their own screen this year.

"Obviously we were too expensive, I guess, or they have some other arrangement with this other independent group," he said.

"So they are using them but unfortunately with that, doesn't come a clock."

Steamers coach Kevin Schuler said having no ground clock at the game was frustrating for both teams.

"At the end of the day, the referee is the sole judge of time and we were in constant communication with him so we were well aware of how much time we had to go. We love playing on this ground and it has fantastic facilities.

"Whether there was a [ground clock] at the game or not it had no impact on the outcome of the game."

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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