This weekend will see some of the biggest stars of cricket and rugby descend on Mount Maunganui for the annual Black Clash T20 cricket fixture.
It is the first time the popular event has headed to the Bay Oval and the venue has already sold out its main allocation of tickets for the 10,000 capacity ground.
The Black Clash sees a team of top rugby players from New Zealand, such as Will Jordan and Richie McCaw, head to the crease to take on the more seasoned cricketers, including the likes of Daniel Vettori and BJ Watling.
However, with many of New Zealand’s best rugby players also handy at the wicket, and crossover stars like Brendon McCullum and Jason Rice padding up for Team Rugby, the match is always highly contested. At present, Team Cricket lead the series 2-1.
The fact this landmark tie is taking place in the shadow of Mauao is another sign of the progress being made at the Kawakawa Street location, which has become a regular host of Black Caps Test matches and will host the Women’s Cricket World Cup opener later this year.
Bay Oval general manager Kelvin Jones is delighted to bring the event to the Bay of Plenty.
“We're excited to host the Black Clash for the first time at the Bay Oval,” says Kelvin.
“We've had lots of people asking, when we would host this event and a pregame sell out shows just how popular this game is.”
The Black Clash is one of several major sporting events in Tauranga this weekend, including the Mount Festival of Multisport and Polo in the Bay.
With One Love Festival on next weekend, it is hoped this is a productive week for the city.
“After months of uncertainty due to Covid-19, we are delighted to be finally hosting these amazing events for the community to enjoy and continue to grow the city’s reputation as one of the country’s premiere event-friendly destinations,” says Tauranga City Council’s venues and events manager Nelita Byrne.
“This exciting summer events season carefully balances the need to resume a sense of normality and provides opportunities for people to take part in events, while doing our bit to help protect our community from Covid-19.”
Previous Black Clash fixtures have taken place in both Napier and Christchurch and receive huge attention. Over 1 million people tuned in to watch Team Cricket defeat Team Rugby and Kelvin believes that sort of exposure can only be good for the area.
“For the Bay Oval, it's another opportunity to showcase our venue to a huge national audience on free to view TV and bring a whole new group of fans to the venue to experience live sport and entertainment in their own back yard.
“We can't wait.”
Team Cricket’s coach/captain is New Zealand Black Caps legend Stephen Fleming with the likes of Vettori and Watling joined by Shane Bond, Jacob Oram and Olympic bronze medal winning shot putter Tom Walsh.
Team Rugby is coached by the legendary Sir Graham Henry and is aided by McCullum and Spice’s presence, whilst Kieran Read, Jordie Barrett and Kaylum Boshier will hope to show off their dual sporting prowess.
Gates for the Black Clash open at 4.30pm with the first bowl at 6.30pm and the action expected to conclude around 10.30pm.