Quick action by QFES, Ergon Energy and Santos helped save the night at the Santos Festival of Rugby in Roma on Saturday night, when an unexpected power outage 25 minutes before the feature match plunged the playing arena into darkness.
According to an Ergon Energy Network spokesman, they are still investigating the cause of a number of concurrent outages in the Roma area on the night.
One lasted for 15 minutes and affected parts of Amby, Injune, Mitchell, Muckadilla, Mungallala and Roma, but the longer outage of 60 minutes only impacted parts of Roma, including Gallas Fox Park, where the Queensland Reds-NSW Waratahs feature game was about to get underway.
The Ergon spokesman said two of its crews were deployed when the outage began at 7.06pm, due to network protection systems engaging.
"This protection system automatically responds to issues on the network similar to the safety switch in a residential switchboard and shut off power for the safety of the community and our crews," he said. "The crews patrolled the section of lines affected and couldn't find any obvious cause."
After conducting safety checks they restored power, but it wasn't until 8.50pm that the game got underway.
A QFES spokeswoman said its Roma crew had responded to a grass fire caused by sparks.
According to a Santos spokeswoman, they were able to reroute generators on the ground to get the lights back up and running for the rugby.
The weekend, which incorporated the annual Roma Rugby Sevens carnival, has been hailed a great success by Santos CEO and managing director, Kevin Gallagher.
Around 1300 people came through the gates on Friday and Saturday's crowd was at capacity at 3000 head.
SEE MORE: Day two action from the Rugby Sevens
Mr Gallagher said the inaugural event in Narrabri last year had gone well despite COVID restrictions, and the concept had been really embraced in Roma.
"Santos has been here (at Roma) for more than 60 years," he said.
"We came from the regions, out in the bush, so we just thought it was a really good idea to go back to our beginnings and connect with the people here and in NSW.
"It gives something back to the communities and very importantly, it's giving the community an opportunity to do something that maybe a lot of them can't do too often, the best rugby players in Australia playing here in Roma."
It was a star-studded weekend, according to Rugby.com.au, which said Liam Wright was to captain the side from blindside flanker, joined by Wallabies Harry Wilson and Fraser McReight in the back row.
Fellow Wallaby Taniela Tupou made his return via the bench, joined by Alex Mafi, recovered from injury.
The Waratahs backline included Wallabies Izaia Perese and Lalakai Foketi, and former Wales international Jamie Roberts was selected for his first game for the club via the bench.
The play at times took place just three or four metres from the crowd watching from the Roma Echidnas' terraces.
Unfortunately for the predominantly Queensland crowd, the Waratahs repeated their win from last year, taking out the Santos Cup and $25,000 with a 21-14 win, and enabling a $5000 donation from Santos to Tonga's volcano recovery effort.
Mr Gallagher, a Glasgow Celtic soccer fan, likened the Reds-Waratahs rivalry to the one between Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers.
"That's why we rotate it through NSW one year, Queensland the next," he said. "You can see that with the quality of players they've brought along, it's stronger than last year and hopefully stronger every year as we go forward."
Earlier in the day, Roma's Olympic gold medalist Emilee Cherry was on hand to present the Black Isuzu Women's 7s Emilee Cherry Cup to the Downs Rugby team, while former Wallaby Tim Horan MCed the festival's Long Lunch, and commentated the big game.
The main game was streamed on the night through the Queensland Reds streaming partners, and according to a Santos spokeswoman, based on the success of the event, the partnership is ongoing at this stage.
Mr Gallagher hoped that next year, when the competition returns to Narrabri, the Roma Rugby Club would head south to be part of the event.
"From my point of view, I just want to see it get bigger and stronger every year, and something the community can look forward to every couple of years," he said.
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