Queenstown Super 14 games booted into touch

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The resort will miss out on any Super 14 rugby matches next year. 

All eight of the Highlanders home games are scheduled for night games, ruling the resort out as a venue. 

Queenstown Events Centre doesn’t have lights for its field and with the airport right next door, it is unlikely temporary lighting will be allowed. 

Of the eight games, six are pegged to be played in Dunedin, while two are anticipated to be held in Invercargill. 

The Highlanders were expected to play in Queenstown over Easter but are playing the Crusaders in Christchurch instead. 

Queenstown hospitality heavyweights Good Group, tourism conglomerate Trojan Holdings and Destination Queenstown stumped up tens of thousands last year to bring a game back to the resort this season – but it seems to have been short-lived. 

Good Group boss Russell Gray says he’s bitterly disappointed there won’t be a local match. 

“I don’t think enough lobbying has been done with the [New Zealand Rugby Union] to ensure that a day game over Easter was put in the schedule so that there could have been a game here. 

“The franchise cannot continue to play games with those that invest to support the game by having a stop start approach. 

“We want some consistency. We expect to have a game here every year or otherwise we’re just simply not going to continue to support it.”

Gray adds: “No-one’s had any dialogue with either ourselves or Trojan over it, which is disappointing.” 

Highlanders project manager Roger Clark says anomalies in draws between South Africa and Australia meant Queenstown missed out on the Easter game and the Highlanders are just as disappointed. 

“It’s something that we have to lobby as hard as we possibly can for, for the following year,” Clark says. 

“Easter’s really the only window where you can get an afternoon game, so we have to make sure that we, over the next six months when we go into the next draw, lobby as hard as we can and let New Zealand know how important it is for us to have that Easter game.” 

The date of a pre-season match to be played in the resort has yet to be decided.