Rugby match at new pitch called off af­ter blun­der

Disappointment for teams as club­house not ready for fix­ture

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ALIS­TAIR MUNRO

THE much-an­tic­i­pated first rugby match at the new mul­ti­mil­lion­pound Canal Park pitches in In­ver­ness was last night aban­doned at the last-minute – be­cause the pa­per­work was not com­plete.

em­bar­rassed High­land Coun­cil of­fi­cials were forced to call off the match be­tween High­land and Gor­do­nians less than 24 hours be­fore kick-off.

They ad­mit­ted that all the nec­es­sary pa­per­work on the club­house had not been for­mally signed off.

One High­land rugby club mem­ber said: “It’s mas­sively dis­ap­point­ing for the play­ers and the sup­port­ers, and for the whole club.”

Colin Howell, High­land Coun­cil’s head of in­fra­struc­ture, said: “All the com­mis­sion­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion has not been fully signed off for the club­house fa­cil­i­ties to be avail­able this week­end.”

“They were all look­ing for­ward to us­ing the new club­house”

The first rugby fix­ture at the new pitches in In­ver­ness was last night called off less than 24 hours be­fore kick-off as it emerged the fa­cil­i­ties were not ready.

Red-faced High­land Coun­cil of­fi­cials were forced to aban­don to­day’s match be­tween High­land and Gor­do­nians at the last minute be­cause all the nec­es­sary pa­per­work on the club­house had not been signed off.

The em­bar­rass­ing er­ror has left club of­fi­cials, play­ers and coaches deeply dis- ap­pointed at not be­ing able to play at the new £4mil­lion devel­op­ment.

One High­land Rugby Club mem­ber said: “It’s mas­sively dis­ap­point­ing for the play­ers and the sup­port­ers, and for the whole club.

“We were all look­ing for­ward to this first game, but it’s not hap­pen­ing.”

The im­pres­sive club­house and 3G pitch was built af­ter the club was re­lo­cated to ac­com­mo­date the new In­ver­ness West Link road.

The club were in­formed just af­ter 4pm yes­ter­day, though fears had been ex­pressed by some ear­lier in the week that work at the sta­dium would not be fin­ished on time.

Colin Howell, High­land Coun­cil’s head of in­fra­struc­ture, said: “The rugby club were due to hold their first se­nior home fix­ture this Satur­day on the new Canal Parks pitches and we had hoped to make the club­house avail­able to them.

“Not­with­stand­ing the ef­forts of the team, all the com­mis­sion­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion has not been fully signed off for the club­house fa­cil­i­ties to be avail­able this week­end.

“Build­ing war­rant oc­cu­pa­tion can­not be fi­nalised un­til this is com­pleted.

“As a con­tin­gency, the nearby aquadome fa­cil­i­ties were of­fered to the rugby club to en­able them to play on the new pitches.

“How­ever they have de­cided to re­main at the high school for this fix­ture un­til the Canal Parks fa­cil­i­ties are fully open.

“It is re­ally dis­ap­point­ing for ev­ery­one that de­spite the su­perb pitches be­ing ready and ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble hav­ing been done to open the club­house, the first fix­ture will not be played at Canal Parks.

“How­ever, the full fa­cil­i­ties will soon be open and avail­able for ev­ery­one to en­joy.”

In­ver­ness West Coun­cil­lor Alex Gra­ham last night said: “This is a huge disappointment for the play­ers and coaches and ev­ery­one in­volved with the match.

“They were all look­ing for­ward to us­ing the brand new club­house and play­ing on the 3G pitch, but they will now have to wait be­cause of this de­lay.

“It is very re­gret­table the match will not go ahead.”

A spokesman for High­land Rugby Club said: “Due to cir­cum­stances out­with the con­trol of High­land Rugby Club, [the] open­ing of the club­house has been de­layed un­til fur­ther no­tice.

“We would like to thank all the vol­un­teers who have worked this week to get things ready.

“The matches will take place at the In­ver­ness High School. We hope you will still be able to come and sup­port the club.”

Pho­to­graph by Sandy McCook

GAME OVER: Andy Lit­tle, chair­man of High­land rugby club, cel­e­brates the open­ing of the new fa­cil­i­ties at Canal Park yes­ter­day, be­fore the match was called off.

KICKED OFF: Andy Lit­tle, of High­land Rugby Club, at the new pitches in In­ver­ness

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