by MICHAEL OTTO
AUCKLAND — A new artificial grass sports field at St Peter’s College means students can use the surface ten times as frequently as when it was ordinary grass and mud.
A 3G artificial turf surface means the field known in Auckland secondary school rugby circles as “the Cage” will be home to St Peter’s College’s first XV rugby and first XI soccer teams.
The soccer team has not had an official home ground up to now.
The field was officially opened and blessed on May 19, before the first XV rugby game between St Peter’s and De La Salle College, won by De La Salle by 29-28.
New Zealand Rugby Football Union president Bryan Williams attended the ceremony, at which school chaplain Fr Bernie Thomas, OFM, led prayers and blessed the field.
Headmaster Kieran Fouhy said a city-fringe school like St Peter’s has to optimise land use.
“We predict that the usage will go from two or three hours a week to 20 or 30 hours a week. The economics of that is pretty sound with a roll of 1200 boys,” Mr Fouhy said.
He called the field, now sponsored and known as the “Fuji Xerox Cage”, “a world class asset for young men”.
The new surface, which can be used in any weather and throughout the year, will also be used for physical
Board of Trustees member Nick Kumarich said the facility is only the fifth International Rugby Board approved turf pitch in New Zealand and “the first IRB and FIFA two-star certified pitch for any school”.
Mr Kumarich said the field was bought by Archbishop James Liston in 1959 for £11,000.
NZ Catholic understands the artificial grass surface project cost about $1 million.
Mr Kumarich called the new multi-sport facility “one that is steeped in history, mud and stones. The mud and stones have gone. The history has not”.
“As we have said throughout this project, St Peter’s College only has one tryline to defend and 1200 boys to defend it, so we might as well make it a good tryline.
“I think we have accomplished that.”
Mr Fouhy thanked the site’s neighbours for their patience during the construction.
He also noted the presence at the ceremony of Patsy McCahill, mother of old boy and former All Black Bernie McCahill, representing the firm of Green and McCahill, which helped turn the original rubble- and stone- filled site into a sports field.
Mrs McCahill, teacher Peter Watt and deputy head boy Angus Craig helped Fr Thomas bless the field.
by MICHAEL OTTO