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Let's end charade now and give up Cup
Sunday February 18, 2007
By Dylan Cleaver

Hosting the 2011 World Cup was a nice thought while it lasted but, hey, easy come easy go.

Let's do the honourable thing now, graciously say "sayonara" and hand rugby's greatest event to a nation that knows how to run these things. We didn't really want it anyway, did we?

Sure, it was a great chest-puffing exercise, wooing all those International Rugby Board delegates.

One last demonstration that New Zealand really is a global rugby power.

Sure, we celebrated when we beat the odds, Japan and South Africa to earn the hosting rights, but we didn't actually want it, did we?

That would mean spending money. It would mean cutting through red tape. It would mean actually giving sports fans in this country - and there are a few of them - a little more comfort, a little bang for their buck. It would be... well, it would be just too hard.

So here's what we'll do instead.

We'll come up with some half-baked plan to upgrade one stand and get the capacity up to 60,000 with temporary seats.

That will keep the nay-sayers happy. The likes of Glenda Fryer on the Auckland City Council who cannot disguise her contempt for Eden Park and everything it stands for. It'll keep the bead-wearers and hemp-sandal brigade happy. It'll keep the whining vocal minority who purport to be "representing" ratepayers happy.

Most importantly it'll keep Trevor Mallard happy.

Not since the days of the kindergarten playground has someone acted in such a transparently juvenile way - "if I can't have my stadium, you're not having yours".

So we'll erect an eyesore on top of an existing eyesore and pretend we're not embarrassing ourselves in the eyes of the rugby-viewing world. We'll say ridiculous things that will suck some fools in - like the fact temporary-seated stadiums are the norm, even de rigeur.

Absolute rubbish. Temporary seating is a viable option forone-off events like the Olympics but only on existing state-of-the-art structures. Eden Park state of the art? That's real a rib tickler Trev.

Then the World Cup will end, at least 40,000 drenched souls will leave the stadium (it sometimes rains in Auckland) and then what. We'll tear down the temporary seats and be left with... the same piece of rubbish we started with.

Rugby fans clearly don't deserve any better. Let's face it, it is not as if rugby has made an indelible mark on this country or anything.

No, there's far better things we can splurge taxpayers' money on. Like Te Papa which we might visit twice in our lives rather than the 100 times a rugby fan will visit a stadium.

Like TV channels and programming only a couple of dedicated mung-bean eaters will watch.

Like Team New Zealand.

Problem is that we've got a Government that doesn't really like sport. Sure, Mallard and Helen Clark will pose for cheesy photo ops if there's an America's Cup boat to be launched, or a rugby test to be attended.

But deep down they don't like sport. They just don't get the fact the sport, and particularly rugby, means more to many New Zealanders than 80 minutes of relatively cheap entertainment. They will never understand how a stadium can mean so much more than bricks and mortar.

So let's end the charade now. Let's concede defeat and hand the hosting rights to Japan, or South Africa, or England. Better still Australia, they're used to cleaningup our messes.

Anywhere where there is a long-term vision that extends beyond one man's pettiness.