Warriors at Forsyth Barr, Yes Please.

How many of you want to see the Vodafone Warriors play an NRL game at Forsyth Barr Stadium? I know I do, and I bet you do too.

Though Rugby League is the poorer cousin to Rugby Union in Dunedin, there is a dormant support base. How many of you regularly settle down to watch the Warriors on a Sunday? Plenty I’ll bet. How many of your mates do the same? Heaps. So why can’t we entice an NRL game to the lovely Forsyth Barr Stadium? If Taupo gets a game surely we can have one.

Luckily, Australian NRL clubs have a history of bringing home games across the Tasman to satisfy the hungry non-Auckland NRL fan base. In the early 2000s the Bulldogs brought a fresh-faced Sonny Bill Williams, along with other star names like Willie Mason and Steve Price, to Wellington’s Westpac Stadium to give the locals a taste of NRL action. The Roosters did the same at AMI Stadium in Christchurch in 2010 and the Sharks hosted the Warriors at Taupo last year. The precedent is set; Dunedin should be next.

In the crowded Sydney Rugby League market, ambitious teams are always looking for new ways to gain more fans or a bit of extra revenue. Many suburban Sydney clubs like those already mentioned (plus the Rabbitohs and Tigers) often find themselves playing their home games at either ANZ Stadium (that’s the massive Olympic one) or sharing the smaller Sydney Football Stadium with their biggest rivals. Die-hard fans often have to travel right across Sydney to watch their beloved teams in heartless, neutral cauldrons. With their home life so imperfect it is no wonder that Sydney clubs want to “play away”.

When Critic approached Forsyth Barr Stadium management they were extremely enthusiastic about the idea. David Davies, CEO of the Stadium Management Committee, said “we are always interested in attracting new events, including NRL games to the venue – we think there is an appetite for league in the South.” Even better: ”We are in discussion with a few clubs but nothing definite has been confirmed as yet.” Davies would not tell us who those clubs were, but Critic understands that one is the Vodafone Warriors, who would most likely be the “away” team for any game. The others are most likely Sydney clubs.

League legend The Mad Butcher showed Critic the Warriors’ club members’ point of view. “The season ticket holders are the backbone of the club,” he rasped. “It would be great to see, but that would mean one less game per season for the members in Auckland.” He added he would fully support another club holding a game at Forsyth Barr. At this point Critic got star struck, started mumbling weird shit, and had to hang up.

The student on the street is into it as well. “Scarfie Greg” said “the thought of Lewis Brown ankle skuxing in the Octagon after a big win in front of ‘The Zoo’ makes my insides tingle.”

Local Rugby League coordinator Steve Martin said he was “absolutely” behind the idea. “It’s something all Otago Rugby League Districts are keen on.” He added that Southland has a strong Rugby League community who would also be keen to get in behind the idea.

So, students, do you feel like this is something that we should throw our weight behind? Get onto ‘Critic-Te Arohi’ on Facebook and have your say.
This article first appeared in Issue 5, 2012.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 25th March 2012 by Gus Gawn.