Pubgoers and licensed premises in Northland are thrilled at an impending change in legislation that will allow bars to extend their opening hours during the Rugby World Cup.
The legislation change, spearheaded by Act party leader David Seymour, will allow bars and clubs to stay open for live matches rather than having to apply for special licences from their district licensing committees.
Justice Minister Andrew Little will introduce a bill amending the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act and with support from Government coalition partners as well as National, Parliament is expected to pass the legislation before the tournament kicks off in Japan next month.
Klondike Ale House in Kawakawa where All Black Jack Goodhue hails from will extend its opening hours if customer demand is there in case games run past 1am.
Both bars on the premises have licences to open until 1am.
"The legislation change is a positive move but we're unsure at this stage if we'll be utilising the opportunity. It will depend on customer demand and if there's demand, we'll look positively at that," co-owner Maria Van-Eyk said.
She said control of patrons' behaviour at that time of the morning would be at the forefront of her mind.
During the last World Cup final in London, she said her customers were happy to come and watch the replay later that day.
Patrons at Whangārei's Judge House of Ale gave the change in legislation a thumbs up.
"I think it's a great idea because not everyone has got Sky. The atmosphere in a pub is far better than watching rugby at home," Brian Bench said.
Vince Maw watches big rugby matches in pubs and said hopefully people would respect the legislation and celebrate responsibly.
Vern Muldrock agreed.
"It's far more social to watch with your mates. I think it's a good idea."
Gavin Benney, co-owner of Judge House of Ale, said his pub would open late if the crowd and timing of matches demanded it.
"If there's a late game, it goes into overtime, and if the right result happens and the All Blacks win the final then we'll open late.
"When watching sporting contests, people don't tend to drink to access and coupled with problems with Spark's live telecast, bars are a good alternative for people to enjoy themselves," said the Whangarei District Councillor.
Benney said a busload of people travelled all the way from Dargaville to watch the last Rugby World Cup final at the pub.
Owner of Collards Sports Bar in Kaitaia, Stan Day, welcomed a change in legislation and said he'd be happy to open late if need be.
"It's up to the licensed premises to manage the extended opening hours as best as they can. We're doing our best to prepare for customers coming in to watch the games ... it's an exciting time."
The Act leader said it made no sense that thousands of bars and clubs were having to apply for special licences to open for a few extra hours, only to be turned down.
Little said it was pretty clear some clubs were having difficulty persuading their district licensing committees to grant a special licence to extend their hours so it made sense for Parliament to allow clubs to meet a community desire.
He said the timing of the matches in Japan meant many premises would already be covered.
"However, there are some premises, such as clubs in rural areas, who tend to have earlier closing times and we want to make sure that these communities have the opportunity to enjoy the games."