All Blacks v Warriors: Cup, NRL clash looms

The All Blacks kick off the RWC against Tonga at Eden Park and if the Warriors hold their present position, they will play the same night at Mt Smart stadium. Photo / Getty Images
The All Blacks kick off the RWC against Tonga at Eden Park and if the Warriors hold their present position, they will play the same night at Mt Smart stadium. Photo / Getty Images

A potential clash between the Rugby World Cup kick-off and a Warriors league finals match has forced a scramble to patch together sufficient services to avoid chaos in Auckland.

Public transport, policing and security are the main concerns.

The Warriors' 26-12 win over Penrith on Saturday propelled them into the National Rugby League's top four. Two rounds remain to be played.

If they retain that placing into the finals series, the Warriors will play the first of the NRL finals at Mt Smart stadium on the night of Friday, September 9

The Rugby World Cup opens on the same night, with a big waterfront party in Auckland and the All Blacks match against Tonga at Eden Park, starting at 8.30pm.

"We're looking at all options for that date," Auckland Transport spokesman Wally Thomas said yesterday, "but the fact is that public transport - buses and trains - will be stretched on that night.

"The bulk of buses and trains in Auckland on that night will be heavily utilised for Eden Park, regional commuters and the launch of the Rugby World Cup on the waterfront.

"We've made timetable changes and put on extra buses and extra trains. The question is whether there's any capacity left to serve what might be another 20,000 people going to Mt Smart."

Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah said the NRL had rejected the Auckland-based club's request for dates to be switched in the first round of the finals to accommodate the Rugby World Cup. The NRL's director of football operations, Nathan McGuirk, said the NRL had considered changing the timetable, but the options were limited because the results of some matches could become meaningless if they were played in the wrong order. And making the changes that were possible would compromise the affected teams by shortening their preparation time.

He said travel and accommodation for the September 9 match in Auckland had been booked.

"The two major issues are public transport and policing, but we believe we will be able to come to some type of arrangement with the Auckland Council and make sure the game can go ahead."

The kick-off time, yet to be finalised, would be between 8 and 8.30pm.

Rachael Dacy, a senior official at the agency handling the council's Rugby World Cup planning, said it was working with Auckland Transport, the police, security providers, emergency services and others to provide for the "significant operational pressures" added by the potential Warriors match.

Mayor Len Brown said that although he was a "huge Warriors fan", as leader of the host city of the first rugby cup match he would attend the waterfront party and the All Blacks-Tonga game.

Warriors executive director John Hart, a former All Blacks coach, said: "I don't need to talk about it because until it [the Warriors securing fourth place] happens I don't even need to think about it."

League lover Sir Peter (Mad Butcher) Leitch said he would go to the Warriors and record the rugby from Sky TV to watch later.

CLASH OF CODES

* All Blacks versus Tonga, Friday, September 9, 8.30pm. Eden Park, capacity 60,000.

* Warriors may play first final series match, Friday, September 9, kick-off 8-8.30pm. Mt Smart Stadium, capacity 30,000.

Which game would you go to? Email: newsdesk@nzherald.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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