There will be extra incentive for Southland crowds to attend the Highlanders big Super Rugby match in Invercargill tomorrow (Friday) night against the Waratahs, with the franchise announcing its official match day charity as the Blair Vining Sports Foundation.
People entering through the gates at Rugby Park will have the opportunity to donate funds to the foundation as well as purchasing a team sheet for a gold coin donation, with all funds going to the cause.
The foundation is the brainchild of Winton rugby legend and games record holder Blair Vining, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year. He has since held a variety of charity matches to raise funds, as well as starting a petition for better cancer control and care to be available for all New Zealanders.
Head of Commercial for the Highlanders, Mike Kerr, said the charity fited perfectly with the game in Invercargill.
He said the team had worked together with the Stonelake Foundation, which helps choose a charity to support at each Highlanders home game.
“We’re going all out on all our social media channels promoting things, which is quite globally large. It’s right around all the rugby fraternity and Highlander fans…hopefully that helps get more of the rugby community to engage with it. I say it’s just a fantastic cause for us to support somebody like Blair within the rugby community.”
Vining will present the match ball with his family before the game and speak to the crowd about his foundation and petition.
It will be the first time the Highlanders have played in Invercargill since 2017, where they defeated the Sunwolves 40-15, with the team not having lost at Rugby Park since 2013.
“It’s an important place for us to be and we like going down and playing at Rugby Park with Southland fans and we are also fortunate we know a lot of Southland fans travel to our games up here (in Dunedin) as well,” Mr Kerr said.
Mr Kerr said players from the Highlanders will appear at H&J Smith in Invercargill tomorrow for an autograph signing as part of engaging the city with the team.
This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here