At 2011's Rugby World Cup tournament, the final touches to four years' planning and strategising by All Blacks management hung on last-minute weather briefings from MetService.
Wind direction and strength affect which way the team opts to play if they win the toss, and shape the kicking game: soaring spiral kicks with the wind, short flat kicks into it. Rain demands longer boot sprigs to handle the greasy conditions.
In 2011 MetService teamed up with the New Zealand Rugby Union to help the All Blacks in their bid for World Cup glory, becoming the Official Weather Forecaster to the All Blacks. The partnership included tailored written forecasts and daily phone calls to All Black management in the lead-up to each game. That's on top of daily conference calls and access to MetConnect, a commercial and secure internet weather service available to all the teams and tournament organisers.
July 2011's rugby test against South Africa in Wellington was a perfect trial run. MetService briefed the All Blacks about a biting southerly that would roar in during the game. Coaches tweaked their tactics and the home team won 40-7 (although we can't take "full credit" for that)!
Checks on 2010 weather records to see what might be in store for spring highlighted what a challenge the team could be facing. In September and October 2010, 116 severe weather warnings were issued around New Zealand. A Southland snowfall collapsed a new stadium roof, a tornado ripped through Taranaki, a Wellington thunderstorm cut power across the lower North Island, Otago gales brought down power lines and upended vehicles, snow closed the Desert Road and in Christchurch it got so cold a Ranfurly Shield parade was cancelled.
In the same period, 139 lightning strikes were recorded within a 20km radius of New Zealand's major rugby venues. One lightning strike could plunge the team into darkness. Then again, one loss could have the same effect on the whole country!
MetService can't change the weather - but it is proud to have a part to play in the All Blacks' ongoing success.