While most rugby fans will be pleased to see a fine forecast for Saturday evening’s Super Rugby match against the BNZ Crusaders, North Canterbury farmers are continuing to battle one of the worst droughts the region has ever suffered.  One hundred of those farmers will get the chance to switch off from the constant worry of the drought for an evening though and instead enjoy a night out at the rugby.

Nick Hamilton of the Hurunui Drought Response Committee and Hawarden farmers Iain and Jaclyn Wright have organised the ‘drought shout’, which will include two buses to transport the farmers in and out of town for the game at AMI Stadium and dinner afterwards.  BNZ Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said he was thrilled to be able to help out when approached by the organisers.

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“We enjoy fantastic support from this part of the Crusaders catchment, so the least we can do is to give a little support back at a time when they are in need.  It will be fantastic to have these farmers at the game on Saturday night and we hope that we can put on an entertaining game to help take their minds off the worries at home just for a little while,” Mr Riach said.

Mr Hamilton says the night out is one small way to help these struggling farmers enjoy each other’s company away from the farm and mentally refresh from the toll that the two year drought is taking.

“Times are tougher than they’ve ever been for farmers in this area.  We’ve personally had to send all of our stock away because we simply can’t feed them, and I know that many other farmers are in the same position.  When you’re living on your farm it is nearly impossible to escape the constant reminder of what the drought is doing to your livelihood.  So to get away from it, all even for just an evening, will be a great relief for us all,” Hamilton said.

“We are immensely grateful to the BNZ Crusaders for providing the match tickets; to Monteith’s Brewing Co. for providing the refreshments for the trip; Cash Manager Rural, Rural Livestock and Mainland Minerals for the funds they’ve provided to help make this happen; and to the Bishop Brothers Public House for hosting us before and after the game.”

The BNZ Crusaders host the Hurricanes at AMI Stadium at 5:15 this Saturday, in their final regular season game before play-offs begin.