Sport Rugby

Thursday 22 February 2018

Test venue reaps bonanza from rugby fans' invasion

Hugh Farrelly

IRELAND'S request to play last Saturday's Test against the All Blacks in New Plymouth has netted the region an estimated NZ$2m, WRITES HUGH FARRELLY.

Accommodation was sold out in the Taranaki town on the Friday and Saturday nights and beds were also taken up in many of the surrounding areas as Irish ex-pats and All Blacks fans poured in, although some locals believe it will not be repeated when New Plymouth stages three pool games at next year's World Cup, including Ireland's meeting with the US Eagles.

"It was absolutely awesome, customers were six deep at the bar and they were very busy again for Sunday lunch," said Doc van Praagh, owner of Westbar and Cafe. "I think it was a one-off with the All Blacks," he said. "I can't imagine the stadium selling out for (World) Cup games unless we were going to have the All Blacks playing here."

However, there is more optimism elsewhere with Venture Taranaki predicting the three pool matches in New Plymouth will bring in NZ$5.2m.

ULSTER have boosted their South African contingent even further by signing the experienced Bulls back-rower Pedrie Wannenburg, who will become the fourth South African to link up with Brian McLaughlin's squad.

Wannenburg, who has made 113 appearances for the Bulls and been capped 20 times by the Boks, has won three Super 14 titles and five Currie Cup crowns during his time in Pretoria.

The 29-year-old is expected to be freed from his contract to allow him to join Ulster in time for pre-season.

NEWCASTLE coach Alan Tait has claimed that many people couldn't believe Timmy Ryan left Munster as he unveiled the prop as a replacement for All Black Carl Hayman, who has moved to Ryan's former employers, Toulon.

"Speaking to people who coached him in Ireland as a youngster, they say he started as a back-rower, and a real ball-carrying one at that, and only moved to prop at about 19," said Tait. "So he has top-quality ball-handling skills, and, with the way the game is going, you need that from your front-rowers.

"Tim is no slouch, and he is a big, no-nonsense man who many cannot believe Munster ever let leave."

Irish Independent

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