Wednesday, 4 March 2009

It’s a cliché I know, but tomorrow night’s Crusaders clash really is a do-or-die derby for the Highlanders.

The Cantabrians, with a close win over the Chiefs, followed by equally narrow defeats at the hands of the Brumbies and Hurricanes can ill-afford another loss if coach Todd Blackadder harbours any ambition to emulate his predecessor Robbie Deans.

The Highlanders for their part can erase the pain, at the condemned House of Pain, of gut-wrenching last-minute losses to the Brumbies and the Hurricanes, followed by a loss to the table-topping, if somewhat fortuitous, Waratahs.

A win against a depleted Crusaders outfit could be just the fillip before two very winnable home games against the Chiefs in Invercargill and the Cheetahs in Dunedin, followed by the more onerous task of the high-flying Bulls in the farcical ‘home’ venue of Palmerston North.

Highlander’s chief executive Richard Reid might have got a good pass mark for sorting out the franchise’s failing finances but he’s forsaken Queenstown and Invercargill and failed miserably in Common Sense 101.

Or maybe the former New Zealand cricketer, a relative newcomer to the university town, also failed Geography 101, got his Palmerstons confused and actually meant to play it 40 minutes up the road?

In these recessionary times it’s rather ironic the only reason the controversial new Dunedin stadium is likely to go ahead is because of the recession and generous John Key’s desire to throw the infrastructure cash around with gay abandon in an effort to spend his way out of the mire.

In another irony, the new stadium is going to have a roof but the sport most likely to benefit from weather-proofing, cricket, can not be played there. While rugby watchers will obviously benefit from a covered-in venue, it’s a winter code and can continue in inclement conditions whereas cricket can’t – as witnessed by last Sunday’s Twenty/20 final – or the lack of one.

I would’ve thought is you’re going to spend close to $200 million on a stadium, you might consider making it multi-purpose, along the lines of the Cake Tin in Wellington? I assume the reasoning for not doing so, is it’s too expensive and technically difficult to cover a round ground rather than a rectangular one? But it seems a hell of a lot to fork out for teams (namely the Highlanders and Otago) fans don’t appear to want to watch!


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