Gale force winds likely to push Rugby Classic back to Tuesday
The World Rugby Classic is ulikely to start until Tuesday after gale forced winds wrecked many of the corporate hospitality tents set up for the week-long event.
Gusts reaching up to 45mph battered the Island last night leaving behind a trail of devastation at the National Sports Centre where the Classic takes place.
Organisers are having to bring in replacements for the damanged tents, and with forecasters predicting that winds will remain high until tomorrow evening the new ones cannot be put up until it has died down.
The practical implications of the delay is expected to mean that today's matches between the All Blacks and USA and the Lions against Italy will be switched to Tuesday, while companies with tents for today are likely to be moved to Friday and ones with tents scheduled for tomorrow will move to Tuesday.
“Our big problem at the moment is the wind and trying to get these tents back up again,” John Kane, the president of the World Rugby Classic said this afternoon.
“We've got to wait for that wind to drop a bit. Our best guess at the moment is we will be playing Tuesday through to the weekend, we won't manage tomorrow either. That's the best guess as of now.”
With two days lost to bad weather, the first time that has happened in the 24-year history of the tournament, the games now seem likely to be squeezed into the remaining five days with teams that make Saturday's finals facing a particularly brusing schedule.
“The players won't have a problem with it,” said Kane. “They'll go Tuesday-Thursday, Wednesday-Friday, the only thing is that those on Friday will have a match the next day, at the finals, but that's it.”
If the wind were to drop suddenly it is still unlikely that the Classic could begin before Tuesday as the clean-up and replacement of damaged tents will take some time.
“We've got to bring in some replacement tents from other suppliers, so we've got all of those things to sort out,” said Kane. “Fortunately we had in our calendar two free days, one was Tuesday, one was Friday.
“We clash with the football match (Bermuda v Barbados, 3pm) on Friday, so we have to figure out how to avoid that clash because the BFA have first dibs on all the parking and the dressing rooms, so we need to work around that.”
There is also the logistical problem of having to move matches and corporate guests around so that companies that paid for a tent are accomodated.
“We've got a good bunch of suppliers, a good bunch of people down here working on making sure the whole thing works,” said Kane. “We'll fit everyone in, we'll look after all the people who had tents they won't be inconvenienced to any great degree.
“Its just a question of how we move them around. We might put the Monday people to Tuesday, let the Wednesday and Thursday people stay, and then the Friday we'll probably put the Sunday people in.”