Blues saved by Aotearoa crowds

Blues chief executive Andrew Hore has revealed that the record crowds at Eden Park during Super Rugby Aotearoa saved the franchise from potentially facing insolvency.

According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, the Blues have sold 150,000 tickets across their four home games during Super Rugby Aotearoa at an average of 37,000 per match – double what they managed in 2019.

Even though Sunday’s clash with the Crusaders is effectively a dead rubber – as the Crusaders claimed the Aotearoa title by finishing first after beating the Highlanders this past weekend – the Blues have still managed to sell out, with a crowd of over 40,000 supporters expected at Eden Park.

ALSO READ: Why Libbok left the Vodacom Bulls

These numbers have helped the Blues turn a dire financial situation going into the Covid-19 lockdown around as they are expected to post a profit for the first time in six years.

‘It was scary leading into lockdown,’ Blues CEO Hore told the Herald. ‘Whether it would have folded could be classed as dramatic but it may have gone down into some form of hibernation.

‘It’s a relief. You understand that as the CEO you’ve got a responsibility to all of those families. Just like any boss or board you take those responsibilities very seriously.

‘The five franchises were all in precarious positions so getting this competition off the ground, as with so many companies and industry in New Zealand, was a godsend for us. We’ve been very lucky that we’ve been able to do it.

‘We’re really appreciative of the fact people took lockdown seriously because it’s not just the players – it’s everyone from the cleaner to the burger salesman, security right through to Patrick Tuipulotu. Jobs were on the line.’

ALSO READ: World Rugby officially delay residency rule change

Photo: Getty Images