The Hawke's Bay Rugby Union has pulled out "all the stops" to get a limited number of fans into the stands for Saturday's Ranfurly Shield defence, Napier City Council says.
But the union won't say exactly what the crowd numbers will be for the highly anticipated battle against Tasman at McLean Park, Hawke's Bay's last defence of the year.
A surprise Government rule change to re-open stadiums to an uncapped number of supporters on Wednesday has put the onus back on individual organisers to decide what their caps for events should be.
Government mandates require indoor and outdoor event venues - such as stadiums or theatres - to ensure spectators and eventgoers remain a metre apart.
It's a far cry from the former rule, which only permitted 100 people per defined space.
The Hawke's Bay Rugby Union said on Thursday morning that a "limited" number of public tickets would be going on sale for fans at 5pm on Thursday.
The union declined to comment about how many public tickets will be available.
The return to the stadium is a welcome announcement for Magpies fans who have been waiting to support their team since the Delta variant hit New Zealand and forced heavy restrictions on public gatherings.
At 11.59pm on Tuesday the Government relaxed its restrictions on how many people can attend stadiums and events in regions currently under alert level 2.
Napier City Council said on Facebook that Hawke's Bay Rugby and the council teams had pulled out "all the stops" to build a structured system which will automatically provide spacing between stand groups.
Magpies coach Mark Ozich said earlier this week that it was great to have more fans potentially coming to the game.
"Magpies supporters are really vocal and passionate and we certainly miss that. If there is a chance that we can get a few more through the gates, that would be great."
Tasman has never won the Ranfurly Shield, since it was established in 2006, and will be gunning for the prized possession.
Tasman fans have even chartered three planes with Originair to fly from Nelson to Napier on Saturday, which includes more than 50 fans and sponsors.
It was announced on Thursday that the three Auckland sides in the Bunnings NPC were set to pull out of the 2021 competition because of the pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions.
- Hawke's Bay Magpies v Tasman Mako will kick off at 4.35pm on Saturday at McLean Park. Tickets are available
from 5pm today