5 Apr 2013

Drought sidelines start of winter sports season

9:56 pm on 5 April 2013

Drought conditions have closed some sports fields throughout New Zealand, delaying the start of some winter sports at the weekend and forcing other codes to move grounds.

Wellington is particularly badly affected.

Wellington Rugby League general manager Jason Hemson says Porirua Park - the home of the sport in the capital - has been closed this week, forcing matches to be held elsewhere.

Mr Hemson says other grounds in the region are usable, but conditions are hard and this could cause

an increase in injuries.

Football games are also affected by restrictions put in place by the Wellington City Council.

A limited number of games can be played on certain grounds, so senior grade football games will be staggered over the next two weekends.

Artificial pitches will also be used to try to accommodate as many teams as possible.

In Christchurch, many grounds are not ready because the city council has not marked them up, affecting football, rugby and league fixtures.

Sport and recreation manager John Filsell said on Friday the majority are unavailable and the council takes full responsibility for the error.

"Of our 293 sports grounds, we've got approximately 62 available tomorrow for the start of the season.

"It's our mistake, we're accountable and we've apologised to the community, especially the sports community."

Mr Filsell hoped all grounds would be marked by next weekend.