Just back from Hamilton. Wonderful atmosphere both days. Fantastic surface, spectator viewing and entertainment zone.
But, I lost my rag on day one when I could not access my cashless band until 5pm, just to buy a coke. After all the trouble it took to load it (it would not load in Firefox - only in Google Chrome, after repreated attempts), it was the last straw! I was told to buy a new topup for $4 to get access - which doesn't help if you leave your wallet behind because of the compulsory cashless thing! They better do away with this compulsory system next time, and allow cash (if not eftpos)!
Couple of other glitches they need to sort for rugby fans. There was no program or paper handout with the match schedule for either day. "Just download our app to find out" was what I was told each time. My phone is a bit shy on disk-space, and, the website crashed anyway. Luckily there was a timed schedule written on a wall by the Hangi tent at the far end of the entertainment area.
The other glitch was the ground announcer and how he combined with the live-screens. His definition of 'next up' or 'on soon' meant anything from 2 minutes times to 32 minutes time, with no clues as to which. His suggestion that you should miss a few games to take a look at the food and rides out back was irritating when you were hanging out for the next half hour break, and did not know it had arrived after misleading announcements. It did take approx 75 minutes in the drinks line by the way - so timing was important.
There was also no announcement of the team lists for each match. Starting lineups flicked on screen for approx 3 seconds in the gap between games - leaving no time to read down both sides. Given the absence of any paper team lists, this was surely a major oversight for interested spectators. I also heard many times people asking which teams were playing, and which team was which - granted that some changed jersey colours between matches. If the announcer simply said who was playing from each end it would have helped.
Great to see Scott Curry back to his best form, and Tim Mikkelsen setting superlative examples in tackling, creating turnovers, and drawing the man before passing. Koroi needs to spend a couple of weeks with Mick Byrne to sort his regular over-long kicking - but the rest of his game was great! But, sadly, the basic kick, catch and pass skills of the NZ team are way behind those of the other top teams. We get close through guts, and amazing defensive skills from the co-captains.
It felt like a home venue for Fiji - with hundreds of loud and enthusiastic supporters. And what an atmosphere they created! Thanks for the memory!