With the region’s sports grounds resembling an African Savannah, codes have had to get creative with the seasons fast approaching.
Water restrictions have meant little or no irrigation to fields, leaving several them of rock hard and posing a risk to player safety.
Jubilee Park in Richmond, Centennial Park in Brightwater, Tahuna Fields, Greenmeadows, and Endeavour Park will all be out of action for at least the first three rounds of the Tasman Trophy, affecting Waimea Old Boys, Wanderers, Marist and Stoke.
The clubs will be spread around Neale, Sports Park in Motueka and Riwaka Sportsground in Nelson, and Lansdowne, Awatere and Renwick Parks in Marlborough.
Tasman Rugby Union competition manager Steve Mitchell says, despite the drought, the rugby season will commence as scheduled.
“It’s certainly, the worst I’ve seen in 30 years, but we have adjusted the draw to play games at those fields available.”
With NZR and the Mitre 10 Cup dictating the season window, Tasman Rugby Union had little choice but to forge ahead with the scheduled start date of March 16.
“The big clubs are all affected, everyone is aware of it and understands the situation.”
Steve says they must be prepared to be flexible about who plays who and where, and is confident the fields that have been made available won’t pose a risk to players.
“Safety is a concern, but we have addressed that to the best of our ability.”
The union has faced similar issues as recently as last year when Trafalgar Park was made unavailable due to the All Blacks test.
“We are a proactive organisation that works with stakeholders to find solutions.”
The drought adds further stress to what has been a dramatic month for Nelsonians.
“I live in Upper Moutere, between the water shortage and the fires, it’s just been surreal.”
Nelson City Council parks and facilities manager Tim Skinner says football should be unaffected, with a scheduled April 1 season kick-off.
He says he will be liaising with a number of clubs in the coming weeks.