Poverty Bay Rugby Football Union Board made a decision at its April Board meeting to immediately stop the use of the grandstand at MoreFM Rugby Park due to health and safety concerns.
The state of the grandstand has been the subject of a number of reports over the past few years and an initial seismic assessment carried out after an investigation into repairing the roof highlighted structural concerns.
The assessment, carried out by LDE, compared the construction materials, condition and possible earthquake rating of the building with New Building Standards (NBS) and indicates an overall score of 15% NBS. The building is therefore considered to be potentially earthquake prone and a very high risk. A detailed seismic assessment is required to know the full extent of concerns.
Poverty Bay Rugby Chairperson Hayden Swann said the decision was not taken lightly but the Union’s duty is to provide a safe environment and unfortunately the grandstand is not safe enough to use.
“It’s not an ideal situation stopping the use of our grandstand but given the information from the seismic assessment and a duty of care to our community we had to make this decision.
“We are responsible for the safety of all rugby participants – from players and management to supporters and bystanders.”
The Union has started talking to engineers about investigating repair or redevelopment options but it has recognised the importance of talking to the Council and other key stakeholders in the development of the Community Facilities Strategy.
“We have discussed the situation with Gisborne District Council and will work with it to get a long-term solution that meets our community’s needs.
“But we are in a precarious position where we own a grandstand that needs to be developed, which sits on Council land, is part of a lease agreement that is up for renewal next year, and is identified as a sports hub to be developed as part of the Council’s priority actions to implement the Sports Facilities Plan,” said Swann.
PBRFU Chief Executive Josh Willoughby said the decision from the Board is responsible and work has already started to allow club and representative rugby games to still be played at MoreFM Rugby Park.
“While the grandstand is very much out of bounds, the playing surface is still one of the best in the countries, the view from the Referees Rooms is hard to beat and the bleachers in front of the grandstand will still hold weight and give you a good view of the game.
“There are challenges around change and shower facilities. We are working with the referees association and Gisborne Park Golf Club for short-term solutions while we better understand more viable long-term solutions.
“Discussions with NZ Rugby will continue to make sure we meet minimum stadia requirements for the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship,” said Willoughby.
All scheduled games for MoreFM Rugby Park will continue as planned, albeit without the use of the grandstand, the first of which is the first Civil Project Solutions Town and Country game on Saturday.