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Dry as a bone

The dust bowl at the Pioneer club’s Jeans St ground. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Dusty grounds worry sports codes
Concerns over dry, dusty, hard grounds grow

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Bone dry sports grounds, water restriction, and a forecast for little rain are causing headaches for Wairarapa sports administrators.

That could lead to serious disruption to the finish of the cricket season and to the start of the club rugby and football seasons in early April.

With only three weekends left in the premier club cricket season, Wairarapa Cricket are monitoring the state of the Queen Elizabeth Park Oval and Greytown pitches week by week.

Water restrictions have meant the Oval pitch has not been frequently watered over recent weeks.

That has resulted in the pitch providing inconsistent pace and unpredictable bounce which could become dangerous if not watered enough.

Rain earlier this week allowed for some watering, so that today’s game between Jackson Street Bar Lansdowne and Burger King Red Star will go ahead as scheduled.

Wairarapa Cricket operations manager Simon Roseingrave was confident they would get through the remainder of the season without any disruptions.

“I was concerned a few weeks ago when the water ban was first put in place, but now with only two weeks to go to the final, we’ll play on a dustbowl if we have to,” he said.

However, the fast approaching ‘winter sports’ season could prove to be more problematic.

The premier club rugby season starts on April 3 with a repeat of last season’s final between champions Martinborough and Gladstone to be played under lights at Trust House Memorial Park, and the other three games the following day.

Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union chief executive officer Tony Hargood said the state of some of the grounds was a big concern.

“The Masterton District Council have said that only 30 per cent of the average rainfall is forecast before the end of April.

“Gladstone, Carterton, and Eketahuna grounds are okay, and Whareama is a maybe.

“Our biggest concerns are Jeans St [Pioneer’s home ground], which is a dust bowl, and the Marist number two and three grounds at Memorial Park.”

“Even if we got rain over the next week and can undersow grass seed, we need four to six weeks for the grass to take hold.”

Hargood said that could put extra pressure on finding slots for games to be played on the artificial turf at Memorial Park.

“At rugby, we have the flexibility to manage our draws as set out and we can utilise the turf, but we also need to work with football.

“We’re also working with the MDC, who are being more than helpful.”

The start of junior sport could also create more issues, with Marist and Pioneer rugby clubs having about 300 players and Douglas Villa AFC, the region’s biggest football club fielding around 25 junior teams.

Hargood said the rugby clubs have already been given a heads-up of potential changes to draws and venues.

He was to visit South Wairarapa and assess the grounds at Martinborough and Tuhirangi.

Hargood said that dry sports grounds were nothing unusual at this time of the year.

“About five years ago we had a similar issue, but rain came in late April and we were okay.”

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