Diary clash threatens NRL Nines

By Steve Deane

Cricket won’t budge on rights to Eden Park for 30 days before World Cup.

Eden Park chief executive David Kennedy said the delay over the confirmation of the dates for the Nines was the fault of promoters Duco Events. Photo / Richard Robinson
Eden Park chief executive David Kennedy said the delay over the confirmation of the dates for the Nines was the fault of promoters Duco Events. Photo / Richard Robinson

Auckland's NRL Nines tournament is under threat next year because of an impasse between the National Rugby League and organisers of the Cricket World Cup over the availability of Eden Park.

The contract between Eden Park and Cricket World Cup 2015 states the ground must not host any events in the 30 days leading up to the first match between New Zealand and Australia on February 28, effectively locking down Auckland's biggest stadium from January 27.

But the Herald has been told the NRL will not allow the Nines to be staged before January 30, with the deadlock placing the 2015 tournament in jeopardy.

The Nines' major backer, Auckland Council, has today revealed the huge economic benefits produced for the city by this year's sold-out inaugural tournament.

Read here:
NRL Nines returns $9.35m to economy - report

Auckland NRL Nines general manager Trina Tamati confirmed organisers had asked the International Cricket Council to waive the lockout clause to allow the Nines to take place on the weekend of January 31 and February 1.

That would mean the ground would still be free for 27 days leading up to its first World Cup match. However, that request has so far been rejected by the ICC.

"They are making us jump through all sorts of hoops," Ms Tamati said. "Fundamentally we have no date. We are at the mercy of Eden Park and the ICC."

The need for Eden Park to be available should another earthquake strike Christchurch has been given as one of the reasons the ICC will not waive its exclusive-use clause, the Herald understands.

An ICC Cricket World Cup spokesman confirmed it had received a request to defer the exclusive-use period but it did not yet have enough information to make a decision.

"Turf experts are currently assessing the potential impact on our ability to present a world-class outfield for the ICC Cricket World Cup," the spokesman said.

"We would like Auckland to have a massive start to the year in terms of major events, with both the World Cup and NRL Nines playing a big role. However, it is imperative that we maintain the ability to deliver a world-class cricket venue."

The ICC appears to have no such concerns about Westpac Stadium, which will host the Wellington Sevens just 12 days before New Zealand plays its cricket World Cup pool match against England there.

Eden Park chief executive David Kennedy said the delay over the confirmation of the dates for the Nines was the fault of promoters Duco Events. Duco Events director David Higgins declined to comment.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development chief executive Brett O'Riley said he was optimistic a solution would be reached.

Nines dates conflict
*No dates have been set for Auckland's NRL Nines tournament due to a clash with the Cricket World Cup.
*Eden Park to be locked down from January 27 - 30 days before first cricket match.
*NRL will not allow Nines to take place before January 30.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 23 Dec 2014 11:07:36 Processing Time: 470ms