Show will go on, insists upbeat Kane
John Kane, the World Rugby Classic president, has insisted that the “show will go on” despite 50 per cent of the floodlights at North Field, National Sports Centre, being destroyed by Hurricane Gonzalo.
Three of the eight floodlights at North Field were brought to the ground during the dangerous winds that pummelled Bermuda on Friday, after another had already been felled when Tropical Storm Fay tore through the Island the previous weekend.
Kane placated any fears yesterday that the Classic — one of the highlights on the Bermuda sporting calendar — may be in jeopardy, pointing out that the event, which is in its 27th year, had a history of triumphing over adversity.
Strong winds forced organisers to postpone two matches last year because of safety concerns after heavy gusts threatened to cause damage to the Members Tent.
Three years ago, the Classic was delayed after gale force winds wrecked many of the corporate hospitality tents.
“There was a club in London called the Windmill Theatre that carried a sign throughout the Second World War saying, ‘We’re Never Closed’ — well, that’s how I think of the Classic,” Kane said.
“This is the 27th Classic and, come hell or high water, the show will go on. We have faced adversities in the past and we just have to overcome them and keep going.”
Kane said that the games would either be switched to National Stadium, along with hospitality tents, or the pitch would simply be moved to a more illuminated part of North Field.
“We have only ever used 50 per cent of the lights in the past,” Kane said. “We’re just waiting to see what it looks like when they’re turned on; it might be a case of moving the field over a bit and resetting the tents.
“If that doesn’t work, we have the alternative of the main stadium, where we would end up covering the running track with plywood and putting the tents there.
“We have a contingency plan and we hope that the normal stadium will be fine. We have obviously lost bleachers but will bring in as many as we can from around the Island.
“We will make a decision [on the venue] some time this week once the picture becomes a bit clearer.”
Among the leading lights at this year’s tournament will be Percy Montgomery, South Africa’s most capped player.
The 2007 World Cup winner joins former international team-mates, Stefan Terblanche and De Wet Barry, in a star-studded Classic Springboks squad.
Also sprinkling some stardust on this year’s event is Mike Tindall, a World Cup winner with England in 2003.
Felipe Contepomi, one of Argentina’s most decorated players, is also sure to add some bums-off-seats excitement during the event.
New Zealand, who won Classic titles in 2009 and 2010, will be the only Antipodeans in this year’s Classic, with Australia, the 2012 winners, missing out.
The opening game of the tournament pits Italy against South Africa on November 9 at 2.45pm, with the Classic Lions playing United States at 4pm.
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