Wanganui rugby to play at Cooks Gardens

By Iain Hyndman

The Wanganui Rugby Union has ended speculation about a home ground with the signing of a three-year deal with Cooks Gardens management company, the Wanganui Events Trust.

The union also had the option of Spriggens Park, but after agreeing on a renegotiated contract Cooks Gardens became the preferred home ground for all Steelform Wanganui Heartland championship fixtures in the River City.

Rugby union chief executive Dale Cobb said considerable discussion and debate had taken place over the past few months and now the decision had been made the premier team could move forward and prepare for another challenging season.

"Through a lengthy process we have achieved an outcome fair and reasonable for all parties. It was about what was best long term," Cobb said yesterday.

"There were a number of options on the table for our union to consider and we felt that we also needed to include benefits for our sponsors and supporters. The overall set up at Cooks Gardens provided the best possible opportunity to promote our members, our rugby and our region."

Rugby union chairman Dave Hoskin said what it meant to Wanganui was simple.

"To secure the best little stadium in all New Zealand is fantastic news, and we encourage everyone to come along to cheer on the team to success once again," Hoskin said.

"It is a grand facility that is recognised by our national rugby body. We have absolute praise for the services that are provided by the staff at Wanganui Events Trust, and they continue to embrace the rugby culture by becoming part of the wider team to put together an event on show for everyone to get involved."

The investment by the Wanganui District Council through its parks and property division to ensure the quality of the surface and maintenance, was heralded as good as any other host region playing surface in the major city centres in 2011 by the Rugby World Cup organising committee.

Events trust chairman Leigh Grant said Heartland rugby was important to Wanganui and his organisation was more than happy to have signed the deal.

The first home game for Steelform Wanganui is on Saturday, September 1 against Horowhenua-Kapiti at 2.30pm.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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