Captains’ runs at stadium cancelled over pitch concerns
Ever-present concerns over the pitch have forced the British & Irish Lions and the Barbarians to forsake the right to have their captain's run at the Hong Kong Stadium today.
Traditionally teams will have their final training run, carried out by the captain and not coach, at the match venue so they get a feel for the ground.
But organisers decided the fragile nature of the surface at the So Kon Po stadium could be roughed up before match day and had arranged for only the Barbarians to carry out their final preparations at the stadium.
That was also cancelled and the Baa-Baas had their run yesterday at the So Kon Po pitch outside the stadium. They will rest today.
The Lions will have their captain's run at Aberdeen Stadium this morning where they have been training since they arrived and only the goal-kickers will get the chance to align their sights at Hong Kong Stadium.
A Hong Kong Rugby Football Union spokesman said that past experience - from the two Bledisloe Cup encounters - had resulted in the stadium being out-of-bounds for any pre-match activity. When the All Blacks met the Wallabies in 2008 and 2010, the players struggled to find purchase, especially during scrum time.
"In line with the Bledisloes, we have sought to minimise any disturbance to the pitch," said the spokesman.
Unlike at the Hong Kong Sevens, there will be no mini-rugby or age group exhibition games beforehand.
Organisers, meanwhile, have warned fans to turn up well before the 7.30pm kick-off "and not rush in at the last minute".