Super Saturday set-up well with Daytime Test Rugby
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09: The New Zealand team face up as Tonga perform Sipi Tau prior to kickoff during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between New Zealand and Tonga at St James' Park on October 9, 2015 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Ahead of a day full of rugby, there are many domestic and International rugby fixtures to hold fans attention on this Super Saturday, especially set-up well with a rare example of Daytime Test Rugby.

Indeed, a rugby game involving the All Blacks beginning at 2:35pm does not occur often. Usually, fans wait until after dark, with floodlights (see above image) so an afternoon match with the sun on players backs will make for a great encounter.

Let us repeat that – New Zealand Rugby have planned a scheduled that includes Daytime Test Rugby. As unique as hen’s teeth, it is both a blessing and a curse for rugby fans.

Daytime Test Rugby – a blessing for traditionalists

For years, the typical rugby fans diet of test matches has been digested after dinner. Fed a glut of domestic and International games in New Zealand and Australia beginning at either 7:35pm or 8:05pm.

Why is that? Fans were convinced that it was to draw an audience in the Northern Hemisphere. So the norm has become tuning in after watching the news. Broadcasters have built-up to games from 6:30pm, and that broadcast can end at 10:30pm or even later. That makes it a challenge for families and early risers.

But not today – A 2:35pm start is ‘perfect timing’.

In Hamilton, a rare case of daytime test rugby see’s the hosts play their final Rugby World Cup warm-up game against Tonga in daylight sunshine. The perfect invitation for fans to plan their day around the game (as it ws for many decades before rugby under lights).

This rare occasion in the South is actually, the norm in the Northern hemisphere. Something fans of the home nations are so used to, they have to adjust when matches are scheduled at any other time. And while traditionalists and families can enjoy the daytime test rugby – and the benefits of getting the kids to bed early – it is only ‘once in a while’.

Fans will need to adjust to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan though, where the timezone is GMT+9. That translates into three hours ahead of New Zealand, two hours in Australia. This means even later kick-offs and late finishes…..time to get out the ‘afternoon naps’.

Daytime Test Rugby – a Curse for International Broadcasters

On the other hand, there is a downside for the International viewer. So early in the afternoon, local time converts into the early hours of the morning in the United Kingdom, as well as in South Africa.

Broadcasters like SuperSport in Africa, SkySport in the UK and over in the United Staes will need to adjust their calendars to suit. Alarms may need to be set, DVR boxes set to record, or maybe a transistor or livestream sitting next to fans pillows. Not a curse, but certainly ‘out of the ordinary’.

In 2011, with the Rugby World Cup held in New Zealand, there were many daytime test rugby fixtures. Matches were spaced at intervals; 2:35pm/5:05pm/7:35pm. And indeed, the Cup final started at 8pm, so that it was a bit more convenient for International broadcasters and viewers.

So does that mentality dictate International schedules? It shouldn’t but, the reality is that larger populations/viewer numbers in the Northern hemisphere have driven the timing of games. Even The Rugby Championship fixtures in New Zealand and Australia are scheduled to the desires of fans within the GMT timezone window.

Today, the local broadcaster will have to adapt. In fact,a curtain-raiser match starts at 12:00 pm. So they will have a full program from midday until 5pm.

A benefit to the local community too, bringing fans to the ground even earlier. The atmosphere will be fantastic, and the midday broadcast will provide many Kiwi viewers with an entire afternoon a rugby union – they will be in rugby heaven from the start, with many legends lacing up their boots in the name of rugby fellowship and for charity.

 

Super Saturday set-up well for RWC preparation

September is a month that begins with many International fixtures, planned as RWC warm-up games. Many key match-ups will be great indicators for teams form and several were played Friday night.

  • South Africa has shown some excellent form, defeating hosts Japan 7-41
  • Scotland ended their mixed RWC preparations by claiming a solid win over Georgia, 36-9
  • Playing at St James’ Park in Newcastle, the England rugby team continued their large strides towards Tokyo, annihilating Italy 37-0.

Those International matches previewed a Super Saturday that includes New Zealand v Tonga. That might hold much attention, but it continues afterwards on Super Saturday.

Argentina also finish their RWC prep, with a hit-out against fellow RWC competitors Uruguay in Montevideo. While not an International, Russia play Connacht; showing that a full contact 80-minute game is much better than opposed training sessions.

Namibia face the Southern Kings, to end their build-up. Under the roof at BC Place in Vancouver, Canada will host the United States in a full International. And it will be full-on match, with the rivals wanting to head over to Japan with some confidence, so expect plenty of fireworks in the game.

One of the key matches – maybe the match of the weekend – is Ireland v Wales. After Joe Schmidt spoiled the final home game for his opposite Warren Gatland, Wales will head to Dublin convinced they ‘must win’. It will be vital for each side’s mental preparations, with confidence needing to be improved from both nations.

While the questions over scheduling may affect rugby fans viewing habits, it still makes for a Super Saturday. International games aplenty, though, there is a lot of provincial and domestic rugby to enjoy.

Mitre 10 Cup: North Harbour v Waikato | Bay of Plenty v Wellington

Farah Palmer Cup: Wellington v Bay of Plenty | Hawke’s Bay v Northland |Tasman v North Harbour

Outside of the main centers, rugby on Saturday is still a huge part of the community. So while a weekend where daytime Test rugby makes a comeback, expect loyal Heartland Rugby fans to be out in force for the full calendar of games scheduled.

  • Thames Valley v East Coast – Paeroa Domain, Paeroa
  • Poverty Bay v North Otago – Rugby Park, Gisbourne
  • South Canterbury v Horowhenua-Kapiti – Alpine Energy Stadium, Timaru
  • Buller v Wanganui – Victoria Square, Westport
  • Wairarapa Bush v King Country* – Memorial Park, Masterton
  • West Coast v Mid Canterbury – John Sturgeon Park, Greymouth

Note* Wairarapa Bush v King Country fixture is going to hold a special moment. Being the first encounter between the Heartland sides, after the passing of Sir Brian Lochore. He was the icon for Wairarapa, while the late Sir Colin Meads was for King Country. So it will be a respectful occasion, on a Super Saturday that has plenty to offer for all rugby fans.

Whether it be afternoon, evening or early morning.

 

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images

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