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Community buzzing for return of Super Rugby

The Mangatainoka Rugby Football Club ground looks a picture ahead of this week’s Super Rugby match. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

This week will see a hive of activity in Mangatainoka, in preparation for the arrival of thousands of rugby fans ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby Battle of the Brewery pre-season game between the Hurricanes and the Blues.

Nick Rogers, who runs the visitor experience at Tui Brewery, says excitement is building, with the township abuzz and everyone pulling together to ensure visitors are made welcome.

“It’s been a long time between drinks here at the Mangatainoka RFC and we’re so excited to welcome back the Hurricanes to our wee slice of rural paradise,” says Rogers, who originally came up with the idea to turn a paddock into a rugby pitch to host the Hurricanes in 2010.

“The last time the Hurricanes played here was in 2012 and it was a cracker of a game against the Crusaders. We can’t wait until they face off against the Blues again as it’s always a close encounter.

“Coupled with that, the field looks amazing and the grandstand is almost built.

“Come next (this) week, the corporate village and supporting infrastructure will all be done, and the welcome mat laid out.”

Raymond van Rijk and Tom van Rijk from Raymond’s BBQ Gourmet who are looking forward to catering for VIPs at Saturday’s pre-season Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and Blues. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Kerry Fergus, who leases the farm on which the Mangatainoka RFC is located, has put in countless hours of work to prepare the ground, while a team of volunteers has worked overtime to create the temporary grandstand which will accommodate approximately 5000 fans.

Running things in the VIP area will be Raymond van Rijk and Tom van Rijk from Raymond’s BBQ Gourmet, who have catered at every Tui Brewery-organised game.

Tickets are still available for the main game which kicks off at 3pm but Rogers is encouraging people to arrive early for the 1pm curtain-raiser between the New Zealand Parliamentary team and the Mangatainoka Barbarians.

Included in the Parliamentary team are co-captains National’s Mark Mitchell and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, and his ministerial colleagues Kris Faafoi [commerce and comsumer affairs], Stuart Nash [police], and Penni Henare [whanau ora, youth, and community and voluntary sector].

Wairarapa-based list MP Kieran McAnulty will also take the field, as will Clayton Mitchell, Paul Goldsmith, Alfred Ngaro, Paul Eagle, Greg O’Connor and Hamish Walker.

“There’s going to be two terrific games of rugby played and being so early in the season it’s anyone’s guess which way the result will go for both teams,” Rogers said.

There are a limited number of tickets left for the event to ensure an intimate atmosphere at the game.

Spectators are being encouraged to turn out in their regional colours, prizes up for grabs for fans who go above and beyond with their fancy dress.

All tickets are available to purchase from tuihq.co.nz or at the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka. Tickets can be purchased online until noon tomorrow. General admission tickets are also available from PGG Wrightson and Norwood Stores until Friday, February 8, while stocks last.

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