While not on the same organisational level and scale as a Rugby World Cup, the upcoming IRB Junior World Championship in New Zealand still needs careful preparation and management.
That job falls to a team at New Zealand Rugby headed by Dan Tatham, who brings considerable experience to the role having worked on Test match operations at the union and managed the Rugby World Cup 2011 matches in Wellington.
“It is the seventh edition of the event so there is a lot of continuity of management and we have a pretty set template to work to,” Tatham said.
The lessons of 2011 have ensured JWC 2014 organisers are well versed in what is required by participating teams and the massive effort needed to meet the requirements of the 12 sides.
The tournament, in its preliminary stages, will be played out at North Harbour’s QBE Stadium in Albany and at the ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe. The final and play-offs for positions three to six will be played at Eden Park on 20 June.
With the potential for June to be a wetter month, former Eden Park groundsman Mark Perham has been working with the tournament organisers to ensure the playing surfaces will cope with the demands of three matches a day.
While Pukekohe did not host any Rugby World Cup matches in 2011, it had been able to prepare for the sort of match management involved in the Junior World Championship during last year's Ranfurly Shield defences at the ground.
Invaluable lessons from 2011
While the annual nature of the tournament meant there weren’t too many problems in arranging travel for the participating teams, one area that the local organising committee have been involved with is in the logistical arrangements for the sides while they are in New Zealand.
Training facilities have had to be arranged along with accommodation, gyms and travel arrangements to matches as well as to and from practices. Six hotels from the North Shore to Ellerslie will host two teams each and they have been schooled up on any specific demands teams may have in terms of diet or team facilities.
Again Rugby World Cup 2011 experience has been invaluable in ensuring all these needs are met and the organisers have been able to work with clubs and schools to provide quality facilities around the region.
“We are expecting that most teams will be very well supported and we have found that not only do parents tend to travel for the tournament, grandparents do too so we are expecting reasonable numbers from overseas," Tatham said.
It is an easy hop across the Tasman for Australians and organisers also expected the South African expatriate community on the North Shore would provide plenty of support in Albany, while the Pacific Islands community in South Auckland would get behind Fiji and Samoa.
The Samoans will be the first team to arrive on New Zealand soil for the Junior World Championship on May 16 as they are staging a pre-tournament camp for their players, with the others arriving later in the month.
“It is going to be a fantastic opportunity to see the best young players in the world while for New Zealanders it is also a great chance to see the young men in black who do normally don’t get a chance to play in front of their home crowd,” added Tatham.