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“If you build it, they will come.” It’s the most famous line from the 1989 film Field of Dreams and it’s also what inspired a farmer to turn his paddock into a rugby field for the Highlanders.

On 11th February 2016, as part of the Southern Field Days biennial event in Waimumu, the Highlanders will run out against an opposing team onto Farmlands shareholder Fred Booth’s paddock. The preseason match will be another attraction at an event that already draws in around 38,500 people over 3 days.

When the Southern Field Days committee were first approached with the concept of a rugby match, their initial response was that it might be more than they could handle, “but the Southern Field Days can-do attitude kicked in, plans were sorted and a rugby field has now appeared out of Fred’s paddock,” Southern Field Days Chairman Logan Evans says. “We welcome the Highlanders to the Southern Field Days site.”

The two teams will play for the Farmlands Cup in a match that is expected to become a regular fixture at the Field Days. “We are certainly in this for the long haul, we see it as a good fit with our fans and commercial partners and also something a little different for the Highlanders,” Highlanders Commercial Manager Mike Kerr says.

The team behind the Highlanders pride themselves on innovation. “We see this as an exciting initiative that will help us connect further with our rural fan base,” Mike says. “We have to acknowledge the great people at both the Southern Field Days and Farmlands, as without their commitment and passion to create a unique rural event this game would not be possible.”

Farmlands Chief Executive Officer, Acting Tony van der Hoorn, says that Farmlands is delighted to support the return of professional rugby to its grass roots. “To have the Highlanders compete on a shareholder’s paddock is fantastic and this will be a great event for the rural community.”

Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks says it will be fantastic to welcome the Highlanders to the Field Days site. “It’s something we certainly wouldn’t have foreseen in the early days of the event. This is a terrific initiative and it’s great to see the Field Days growing all the time.”

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