Nelson is fast becoming a host city for major sporting events and teams but how close are we to hosting an All Blacks test.
It’s been a bumper 12 months for Nelson sports fans, who have seen the Black Sticks play international hockey at Saxton Fields, the Silver Ferns host Jamaica at the Trafalgar Centre, the Wellington Phoenix and New Zealand Warriors playing preseason games, as well as the Black Caps committing to Nelson with their international cricket schedule.
How realistic is it to think Trafalgar Park could host an All Blacks test in 2018?
It would be one of the “minor” tests, not a Rugby Championship game, but that would hardly matter, it would sell out.
Trafalgar Park’s capacity was at 18,000 for the 2011 Rugby World Cup which is not far off the capacity of stadiums which the All Blacks have played in front of.
Napier’s McLean Park, which last hosted a test against Argentina, has a capacity of 19,700.
Christchurch’s post-earthquake AMI Stadium seats 18,800 but obviously has a bigger population to pull people from.
Trafalgar Park is also quite vast, there is room to add temporary seating or build a new stand if the Nelson City Council saw it as a viable option.
An All Blacks test in Nelson would also be viewed as progressive thinking and innovative on the part of the New Zealand Rugby Union.
They can take a test against a lesser team to a new area and make it a sell out while making it a good grass roots public relations exercise.
The NZRU say allocation for tests in 2018 and 2019 will open shortly and unions are judged on several things including these criteria.
Financial return and ability to achieve capacity crowds, infrastructure, adding to the festival around New Zealand Rugby fixtures
“In recent years, we have encouraged Unions to work closely with their territorial authorities to build good regional proposals to host Test matches,” the guidelines read.