Festival hopes for big crowds
With no British and Irish Lions rugby game in Manawatu, Palmerston North has put on a threeday game face to attract Lions fans, including a world’s biggest scrum record attempt.
The city is leveraging off Tuesday night’s game in Wellington against the Hurricanes and the second test on Saturday also in the capital.
Along with Wednesday’s armed forces Kings Cup rugby match at Central Energy Trust Arena, a two-day street carnival and a visit by the British and Irish Lions male choir, the mid-week Winter Festival includes an attempt to break the record for the world’s largest scrum on Thursday.
The Palmerston North City Council’s community engagement manager Ian Littleworth said the official scrum record set in September 2016 was 1565 participants, held by Fukuroi, a city in Japan with a similar population to Palmerston North.
However, yet to be verified is a total of 1740 set in April this year in Limerick, Ireland, in honour of Irish great Anthony Foley, who died last year.
‘‘We have a new target to beat to make double sure,’’ Littlewood said.
He said Palmerston North prided itself on its rugby heritage, with the New Zealand Rugby Museum, the Manawatu Turbos, and the Sport and Rugby Institute, while also being home to several All Blacks and Black Ferns.
‘‘We know what rugby means to Palmerston North and what better way is there to show this to the world? This is a Guinness World Record and there are very clear guidelines about how you go about it.
‘‘Palmerston North Boys’ High School has embraced the challenge and will play a major role in providing participants, as well as hosting the attempt,’’ Littleworth said.
The attempt will take place at 1.30pm. Participants are encouraged to wear black or navy tops and jackets.
‘‘If anyone can break the record, we can. The more people we can get, the better.‘‘
Black Ferns star Selica Winiata will put the ball into the scrum.
With more than 22 bus-loads of Lions fans due at the NZ Rugby Museum during the week, there’s also the Black Boots Legend exhibition by photographer Barry Durant to take in.
A high point on Friday night will be a performance in the city’s Main St Conference and Function Centre by the Lions Male Voice Choir. Founded in 2001 and with members drawn from all over the British Isles, it is directed by Mark Burrows of Melody Music.
‘‘We’ve done well getting them here,’’ Littleworth said. ‘‘It will be a wonderful way for our community to feel a greater connection to the Lions Rugby tour.’’
The concert will also feature Palmerston North Boys’ High School’s OK Chorale and Freyberg High School’s Bella and the Fellas. Both choirs won awards at the recent regional Big Sing.
Black Ferns fullback Selica Winiata in action against Australia.