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All Blacks fail to sell out 20,000 seater Orangetheory Stadium

By Ian Cameron
Christchurch's Orangetheory Stadium (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The All Blacks have so far failed to sell out Orangetheory Stadium ahead of their match with Los Pumas this weekend.

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The stadium – which holds just 20,000 seats – is yet to be filled, despite it being the first time in six years that New Zealand have played a Test in the city. Organisers have already added 3,000 temporary seats, but it looks like they won’t be needed.

It’s forecast to be a brisk 7 degrees for kick-off with rain unlikely, but it seems Cantabrian rugby fans are still opting to watch the game from the comfort of their living rooms.

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Local interest in the squad isn’t to blame either, with the majority of the current side being made up of the Crusaders’ finest.

Some have blamed the fact that NZR have appeared to snub Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson for the All Blacks’ top job, preferring instead to persist with the misfiring Ian Foster instead. Writing in the NZ Herald, Hamish Clark asked: “Why is Christchurch not a sellout? If Razor was the coach, the tickets for next week’s test match would be as good as gone! Christchurch is rugby mad.”

The stadium – formerly known as Rugby League Park – was originally a stop-gap measure after the 38,000 Lancaster Park was severely damaged by the 2011 earthquake. However, ten years on and Orangetheory Stadium is still very much in use by the rugby union, and with the refurbished Lancaster Park not set come online until 2025 at the earliest, they’ll be there for some time yet.

The question being askedin some quarters is why is a far larger stadium being built in Christchurch when not even the All Blacks can sell 20,000 tickets for a Rugby Championship game at the smaller Orangetheory Stadium.

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“I actually played in Jade Stadium too, or the old AMI, played in the last Test match there,” said All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock. “Then I saw what the whole community went through not just here in Christchurch but the whole greater area, the things that people went through whether they were a five-year-old kid waiting for their parents to come pick them up from kindergarten after a number of different earthquakes and tremors, whether they were an older person put under stress that way. So it is great to have Test match rugby back here in Christchurch.

“I know it affected the community just before the World Cup, losing all those Test matches through the World Cup. So it’s great to be back and it’s a little bit surreal when you start looking around, there’s not actually a lot of people that were playing professional rugby when those earthquakes happened in the team so it’s nice to be able to pass on some of those messages we’ve had through the years that have gone past through playing here as All Blacks.

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“There’s definitely a buzz and there’s a lot of people coming from a long way away that can get to the game that are pretty excited. I know there are a lot of kids that it’s their first chance to come and get to the game. Fingers crossed it’s a nice still night out there and not so cold.”

Foster’s side have have named an unchanged starting line-up with the only change coming on the bench where Stephen Perofeta is poised for his test debut after replacing the injured Beauden Barrett

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