Masterton’s Trust House Memorial Park will stage New Zealand’s first-ever professional rugby game on artificial turf, when it hosts the Hurricanes and Chiefs development teams on Thursday 30 April.
The $2.1 million state-of-the-art turf will be officially opened just prior to the development game, which will be the highlight of an evening festival of rugby and football. The occasion will also be marked by a mass haka performed by groups from Wairarapa schools and colleges.
The Hurricanes and Chiefs line-ups will include a number of notable Super Rugby players from both franchises who will be seeking valuable game time at a crucial stage in the season. In the most recent clash between the two sides at Te Kuiti, the Hurricanes defeated the Chiefs 28-18.
Also trying out the new turf and floodlights for the first time will be junior rugby and football teams from Wairarapa clubs and a college rugby game featuring some of the leading young players in the region.
Jonathan Tanner, chair of the Wairarapa Multi Sports Stadium Trust, says the opening of the artificial turf marks the culmination of 18 months hard work. “This will be a very significant day in the development of many sports throughout the Wairarapa, not just rugby and football,” he explained.
“The new turf and floodlights has been ambitious project and we are grateful to the efforts of a great many people, particularly Heartland Wairarapa chairman Bob Francis and Wairarapa-Bush Chief Executive Officer Tony Hargood. The result is a multi-use facility which will be of tremendous benefit to a vast number of schools, colleges, sports clubs, and other community organisations.
“Park usage is expected to increase from five per cent to 40 per cent, with ground hire fees the same or less than in previous years. Floodlit rugby and football are planned, with many evenings already booked out. None of this would have been possible without the generous funding we have received from Trust House, the Lottery Grants Board, Masterton District Council and the Eastern and Central Community Trust.”
Tickets are now on sale from PGG Wrightson, Wairarapa i-SITES, Carterton Events Centre and online from Eventfinda. The prices for pre-sales are $15 for adults in the stands, $10 general admission and $5 youth (12-18yrs) for all areas.
Tickets on the gate cost $20 for adults in the stands, $12 general admission and $5 youth (12-18yrs).
Gates open at 4.45pm, with the first junior game kicking off at 5pm. The Hurricanes and Chiefs development match kicks off at 7.30pm.