The Rugby World Cup 2015 is less than two months away and everyone's excited at the prospect of coming together and cheering on our favourite teams as they give it their all on the other side of the world.

With this year's event being held in England and Wales, and most of us relying on watching the games on TV in the small hours of the morning, it goes without saying that many of us will be prepared to put sleep to one side for a few short weeks and take in as many of the games as we can.

For a lot of us, that will mean getting together across the city in clubs and bars to watch the games on the big screen with our friends (and maybe a few rivals cheering for other teams).

After all, that's part of the beauty of sport - coming together and sharing what is often a rollercoaster of emotions, hopefully one of which will be elation at the end. It's this kind of event, regardless of where it is held, that helps to create a vibrant city and one in which we all want to live and enjoy.


As a council, it's our job to help people have fun in a safe environment, but we also have to work within the same legislation that all councils throughout the country do.

In 2012 Parliament brought in new laws that meant bars and clubs throughout the country were no longer allowed to open 24-hours. The new rules state that on-licence premises must be closed between the hours of 4am and 8am, unless they have a special licence.

So herein lies a problem. Of the 48 scheduled Rugby World Cup games about half kick off after 4am, including the All Blacks who will play two pool matches outside the on-licence hours.

Factor in the semi-finals, the bronze final and the final also scheduled for that four-hour window and that's potentially a few games we'll need to stay at home and watch instead of being among the action and soaking up the atmosphere elsewhere.

That's led many Aucklanders to ask what we're planning on doing to fix that. While we can't rewrite the law (that would mean Parliament making an amendment to its maximum hours in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act), since February we've been working hard with the owners of bars and clubs throughout the city to give them the tools and information they need to apply for a special licence through the District Licensing Committee.

The District Licensing Committee is mindful of the fact that the national authority - Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority (ARLA) - doesn't consider a televised sporting match an event in itself and that alone wouldn't warrant the granting of a special licence.

Relatively simple things like having an overall theme in the spirit of the team the bar is supporting, live music before the game, having a quiz or a guest speaker, could be enough to satisfy the DLC and ARLA in that regard.

And this is what we're working through with those bars and clubs that do want to be open during this time.


Our licensees are our customers and we want you - their customers and our ratepayers - to be able to really enjoy the Rugby World Cup in a great environment where you can even bring the family down to watch a game over breakfast.

Go the All Blacks!

Grant Barnes is Auckland Council's general manager of licensing and compliance.