End of a rugby era
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.
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.