With just over than 60 days until the Rugby World Cup kicks off, Kate Newton looks at how the Western Bay is getting itself ready to play host.

Never before has the No1 rugby field at Tauranga Domain been given so much attention.

For months now photos have been taken every two weeks of the grass growing on it that are then sent to Rugby New Zealand 2011, the organisation responsible for the delivery of this year's Rugby World Cup.

Penny Mitropoulos, as part of her Rugby World Cup promotion role in the Bay of Plenty, has been tasked with taking photos of different patches of the field and filing a report on what has been done to get it to the specified standard.


"It's really nice. It lets them know we are looking after the training venues."

Tauranga City Council's parks co-ordinator Nick Stewart said players had been using a field that had been created at Wharepai Domain when it rained - which has happened a lot over the wet autumn and start of winter - so the Domain field wouldn't be damaged.

"Rugby is a pretty hard sport on the ground and when it rains the impact on the turf is significant," Mr Stewart said.

Tauranga Domain and Baypark will be the two training fields used by the Fijian, Russian and Samoan teams when they arrive in Tauranga in September.

Baypark's field has also been rested with the Steamers training elsewhere.

"We need to make sure the facility is in its best condition," Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive Mike Rogers said.

"The more use it gets the more risk there would be of the field getting ripped up with the weather. Managing its use has helped to make sure it will be in a good state when these teams get to town," Mr Stewart said.

Fiji has indicated it wants to be able to have closed training sessions but talks are under way about whether the public could view some of the teams' training.


"They are here to win a World Cup but in the dealings we've had with those teams they've been very positive about working in with the local community," Mr Rogers said.

Getting the teams around the region is going to be a huge task.

"There's a lot of equipment coming with the teams," he said.

"It's a massive logistical exercise and when you consider each team is a squad of 45, moving them around is just massive."

The hotels where the teams will be staying are being kept a secret for security reasons.

The excitement in the community was starting to build and to match that of those involved in making it happen, he said.

"Tauranga, if you look at events, is pretty late to get sorted. Our crowd is a walk-up crowd," Mr Rogers said.

"But I certainly think now we are just over 60 days away you hear a lot more discussions about the World Cup around the place."

Ms Mitropoulos said it was still hard to know how many extra people would be in the Western Bay during the Cup.

"I've asked that question over and over and no one knows," she said.

She would be keeping an eye on accommodation bookings and waiting for information on ticket sales to determine how big the influx would be but said she had heard of people planning to holiday in the region in between games.

"And a lot of people have family coming out for it," she said.

Fifty-two people have put their hands up to work as volunteers while the teams are in town and among their tasks will be welcoming teams at the airport and a local marae and providing tourism information to those coming off cruise ships.

The town will be dressed, too, with bunting made up of international flags on its way to decorate Tauranga and Mount Maunganui's main streets as well as Katikati and Te Puke's.

In town:

Fiji September 5-8 and 26-30

Russia September 21-23

Samoa September 7-10