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FARMLANDS FLASHBACK: THE FIRST MATCH – HURRICANES V BLUES, MARCH 1, 1996

on Monday, 25 February 2019. Posted in Turbos News

FARMLANDS FLASHBACK: THE FIRST MATCH – HURRICANES V BLUES, MARCH 1, 1996

Unlike many things in life, the first Super Rugby match does not seem like only yesterday.

That is probably down to the fact that rugby has progressed at such a rapid rate in the 23 years that have gone since a Friday afternoon car ride from Taranaki to the Palmerston North Showgrounds.

The reason for the road trip? To be part of the first professional rugby match in New
Zealand.

Just a year before New Zealand rugby fans had suffered a devastating extra time loss as the All Blacks stumbled in the Rugby World Cup final in South Africa while a subsequent division in the sport opened up shortly after as money men battled for the broadcasting rights and overall control of the game.

For many up State Highway 3 there was a wish to see what all the fuss was about.

There was another point of motivation for those in the most northern part of Hurricanes country - the chance that a team aligned with Taranaki could actually compete with one from Auckland.

Like many around New Zealand, the dominance Auckland had enjoyed in our national game had gone well beyond wearing thin.

Truthfully, however, the expectation was not great, especially given the stacked side the Blues had ventured down with.

That did not seem to matter as we settled down on the concrete terrace behind the dead ball line and the speedway fencing – reasonable value at just $10.

Especially after Mark ‘Bull’Allen came crashing through the paper wall that wore the name of the Wellington Hurricanes shortly before 7.15pm on a night when short sleeves won out over normal rugby watching attire.

That simplistic act of marketing appeared to almost intoxicate the audience at the showgrounds who remained engaged in the match from beginning to end.

It mattered little that the Hurricanes had to rely on the boot of first five-eighth Jamie Cameron to keep in touch after Andrew Blowers, Eroni Clarke, Junior Tonuú, Craig Dowd and finally Carlos Spencer had crossed to counter the solitary effort of Alama Ieremia.

By match end the 36-28 score had ignited something within many at the ground.