End of a rugby era

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Scott Morgan

THE only All Black cap­tain to lead New Zealand to Rugby World Cup glory is get­ting be­hind Eden Park’s new look.

David Kirk says lift­ing the William Webb El­lis Tro­phy in Eden Park’s south stand in front of thou­sands of fans is a mo­ment he’ll never for­get.

“I felt a com­bi­na­tion of joy, re­lief and sat­is­fac­tion in hold­ing up the Rugby World Cup in 1987,” he says.

“We knew we were good enough to win and to have achieved our goal was im­mensely sat­is­fy­ing.”

While the for­mer half­back will be sad to see the stand go, he says it’s time to move on.

“It’s hard not to be nos­tal­gic for the stand and es­pe­cially the chang­ing rooms be­cause they carry so many great mem­o­ries,” says Mr Kirk.

“But I’m also re­al­is­tic about what needs to be done.

“The stand is age­ing and all sta­dia need to be de­vel­oped over time, so I think it is def­i­nitely the right thing to do.”

Mr Kirk, who is now chief ex­ec­u­tive of Fair­fax Me­dia, own­ers of this news­pa­per, says the new-look Eden Park will be an im­por­tant as­set, both for the world cup and be­yond.

“New Zealand needs at least one larger sta­dium and Auck­land is the right place for it.

“Hav­ing Eden Park in the mid­dle of a res­i­den­tial area has its prob­lems, not least park­ing, but with good pub­lic trans­port that is man­age­able.”

Eden Park Re­de­vel­op­ment Board chief ex­ec­u­tive Adam Fee­ley says he hopes the new stand will pro­vide the spot where an­other All Black cap­tain can hold the world cup aloft in 2011.

“To be hon­est a lot of peo­ple look at the park and don’t have that emo­tional at­tach­ment be­cause they’re not Auck­lan­ders, or for other rea­sons.

“But at the same time you look at that patch where David Kirk stood, and it’s the only time we picked up the world cup.

“It’s one bit of the park that’s ac­tu­ally dis­ap­pear­ing. It makes you think a bit more about how the new park could lay claim to the same thing.”

Mr Fee­ley says the All Blacks win­ning the fi­nal test at the ground was a great way to say good­bye to the stand.

“There was a brief pre­sen­ta­tion up on the screen with images of the old ground at the end of the game and I think peo­ple re­alised it’s def­i­nitely hap­pen­ing now. Even the Aussies would have to ad­mit it would have been harsh to end the era with a loss.”

De­mo­li­tion of the stand of­fi­cially starts to­mor­row, with all seats and mem­o­ra­bilia al­ready re­moved.

The new 21,500-seat stand is due to be com­pleted by the end of 2010.

The Auck­land rugby team will play sev­eral Air New Zealand Cup home games at the park, with tem­po­rary lights and me­dia fa­cil­i­ties in front of the south stand build­ing site.

“We’ve got to make it work and life has to go on around con­struc­tion,” Mr Fee­ley says.

Photo: JOHN SELKIRK/Do­min­ion Post

Lone vic­tory: For­mer All Black cap­tain David Kirk, pic­tured hold­ing the Rugby World Cup in Eden Park’s south stand, is sad to see the stand go, but thinks it’s time for an up­grade.


Some­thing old: De­mo­li­tion be­gins to­mor­row on Eden Park’s south stand.

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