The Highlanders could have the honour of of being the first top-class sporting side on the planet to host a live event in front of a crowd since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Tickets for their opening Super Rugby Aotearoa clash against the Chiefs next Saturday could go on sale as early as 4:30pm on Monday, depending on whether New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lifts public gathering restrictions in the coming days.

“We could be the first live sporting event in the world so you’ve got to be excited about that,” Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark told the Otago Daily Times.

“Of course we have to wait until Monday and see what the Prime Minister says, but if we get the go-ahead, then that would be great.”

“This could be a history-making, world-first event, the first of its kind since the pandemic.

“It’s bloody exciting for Dunedin, the stadium and for the Highlanders.

“We are getting ready for the tickets to go on sale at 4.30pm on Monday and have been in touch with all our sponsors and members who are pretty excited about it.”

The match at Forsyth Barr Stadium will be the Highlanders’ first in Dunedin since their 28-22 defeat to the Melbourne Rebels on February 28, meaning Clark was hopeful of a big crowd for the return of rugby after over three months.

“Anecdotally, from the people I have been talking to, everyone is really hanging out for the game,” he said.

“Between stadium members and our members we have about 7500 and they are really looking forward to something like this.

“We’ve had all those weeks when you had to spend time with just your family, not able to do much. Now I think everyone wants to go back out and be part of a big event.”

Next week’s opening round will also see the Blues – the new home of star playmakers Beauden Barrett and Dan Carter – take on the Hurricanes at Eden Park in Auckland.

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Dan Carter joins the Blues

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