All Blacks Rugby: Getting to watch the All Black’s training session
I love surprising people.
I especially love surprising my daughter Miss 13.
I got the perfect opportunity to do just that last year, completely unexpectedly to me too.
A couple of years ago I registered with Backing Black, the official All Blacks fan club run through Telecom. When you register they send you news and updates about the games and interesting bits. They also let you know about advance ticket sales etc…
Anyway, as a result of simply being on their database. I received a call whilst I was at work that morning from Backing Black to let me know that I had been picked at random from the database and had won:
“The chance to watch the All Blacks Training session at Westpac Stadium!”
How cool is that. Not at all what I expected to hear over the phone on a Wednesday morning at work. Awesome! He let me know the details of where and when. It was about 6 days away on the following Tuesday.
I had been having a look a week or so before at tickets for the upcoming All Blacks vs Argentina game, the ONLY All Blacks game being played in Wellington at Westpac Stadium in 2012. I would have loved to have gone and taken Miss 13 to her first All Blacks game. But in reality the cost of the tickets for her and I were just too far out of my reach at that time. Too many other budget priorities ahead of that.
Back to the phone call about winning the chance to watch the training. As he was signing off from the conversation, he just threw in there real quick….”And your tickets for the Game will be in the post…”
I said “What”…he said “As part of the prize, you also get two tickets to the game on Saturday”. All Blacks vs Argentina – 8 September 2012.
Woohooo, double awesome. Getting to go to the training which was so different and also getting go to the game that we wanted to – for FREE!
OK, I knew instantly that I wanted to keep it a surprise for Miss 13. Surprises just about do my head in, as I am itching to tell the person, but I love the surprise more, so do my best to play it cool, but on the inside I’m bursting!
I quickly needed to sort:
* Call Miss 13’s School that she was going to next year to change the day that she was coming to do a School visit. Tick.
* Ask work for Time off. Tick
* Email current School the night before and let them know she would be absent. Tick
On the day of the training, it was a glorious morning, frosty and chilly, but the sun was shinning bright. A typical May day and Wellington at its best!
I got Miss 13 up like normal and then when it was time to get dressed, I gave her her clothes (I had swapped out the ones she had laid out the night before for School to ‘Warm ones’) and said “Hmm, change of plans, no School today for you, but not telling you what for yet”.
She was bursting.
She loves surprises too, but soooo WANTS me to tell her, but then doesn’t want me to tell.
When it was time, we head out the door laden with snacks, water and cameras. As we live in the City we are able to walk easily to the Stadium, so we head off down the street. She is getting so excited, as she is trying to guess.
We head up towards the stadium steps by the Railway station and she tries to guess again “are we going to a HOME SHOW”…”No”, “are we going to a “RACE”…”No”.
We start walking along the Fran Wilde walkway towards the stadium which is really really long (takes about 8 minutes to walk down it) and she spends ages trying to guess. There is no one around, it’s a glorious morning so we have the run of the walkway. We muck around, running up and down, goofing about and making the most of just sooo much space and completely enjoying the morning sunshine.
As we approach the entrance, I finally give in and tell her what we are about to do. Miss 13 could NOT believe what she was hearing, she was ecstatic and was squealing with delight, and almost didn’t actually believe me.
Ahhh, so much fun.
We arrive at the stadium entrance and wait where they had told me to. We are at least 20 minutes early (I always am early) and so we just wait and chat away about what today might bring and other silly stuff.
A couple of other people join us, they are winners too. Then someone from Backing Black team joins us and we wait for the last few to arrive. In total we are about 10 of us. They lead us down the driveway and we head in via the “Players Entrance”, that was cool enough as it is, to be able to see this end of the Stadium.
We walk down the hallway past the changing rooms, and see the odd pair of shoes and bags strewn throughout the hallway (looks like someone was in a hurry!).
We get to pop out via the Players tunnel, the same one the Teams run out of for the games. Sooooo cool.
The stadium in bathed in sunshine, the 35,000 seats are bright shiny yellow and completely empty, bar a small handful just to the right of us where a few people are sitting that look like they are ‘meant’ to be there.
The All Blacks had started their morning training earlier than expected that day, so they were already into it. The stadium was silent except for the “hip, yip, yap, hip” sounds the guys make running a 1/2 field game warmup.
They were playing ‘across’ the field, rather than along and not tackling hard.
It was quite a strange thing to hear all the “hip, yip, yap, hip” sounds, as normally in the stadium, the crowd is so excitedly noisy and loud and that’s all you hear. You don’t hear what they players are saying.
The Backing Black person had been telling us earlier about the competition that had happened earlier that morning. Israel Dagg and Dan Carter had been chosen to create their very own personalised Adidas Training Kit using a new software Adidas had designed http://www.miteam.adidas.co.nz
She explained that each player in the All Blacks team was then given “both” designs of training kits to choose from that morning in the changing room (without Dagg and Carter there).
They then appeared out on the field with their chosen kit…
Daggs was predominately Pink, with some Blue stripes on the top and splashes of Yellow. I actually quite liked it as it was very striking and looked good.
Carters was a Red, Blue and White striped combination which looked very smart and having Red and Blue on it as some of my favourite colours, it would have been my pick in the end too.
What I don’t get, is that the training shirts have lately all had this weird half circle piece above the small of their backs that is often in a different colour. It just makes their profile look a little weird. I’m sure there is some really really good reason for this, probably makes the guys run faster or something…but it’s just a little odd design feature.
Anyway…The result was there was about 22 team members in Carters Red, Blue & White coloured kit and about 5 in Daggs Pink, Blue and Yellow coloured kits.
On the field it looked quite spectacular watching them run around in these colours and seeing them joke around with each other about their choices.
You can see a video of Carter and Dagg creating the designs here.
You can see their interviews before and after the training here.
Then we just watch. I find it absolutely fascinating watching the training.
Miss 13 sets about trying to spot the players she knows of…Israel Dagg, Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Aaron Cruden…She also sets about snapping photos and taking videos of all she can.
The team then come together and do some kicking practice.
Then they break into what I imagine is Forwards and Backs (or something) and work on catching high balls with jump catches landing on the other player who has a giant turtle shell padding thingy on their back.
Some then head over to the side and start working on their scrums.
Some would find this really really boring, but I am completely fascinated seeing the types of drills that make up part of their training week.
It’s nearing the end of the training and it’s at this point that the Press are allowed in to set up for their weekly interviews.
I recognise Jim Kayes from TV3 and James Somerset from Backing Black.
There are others there, but I don’t know who they work for.
They set up behind the sideline advertising signs.
The players are then released from training and from my guess they have been briefed earlier as to who is up for interviews afterwards.
Carter and Dagg get interviewed about their training kits that they had designed.
Peri Weepu about his return to the squad.
Richie McCaw about the upcoming game and about his thoughts on Carter and Daggs Kits.
It’s now time for us to leave.
We get led around past the players doing their interviews and head back the same way we came, through the players chute and past the changing rooms to which we hear the familiar din of jovial chatter you would normally hear in any sports changing room around the country on a Saturday.
We are waved goodbye and we walk home. Rehashing excitedly about what we had just been watching, the interesting bits, what we saw etc…
As I only took a half day from work we now need to walk home, jump in the car and head to School and work.
Miss 13 is so very excited to be able to relay what she was up to this morning to her friends when she gets to School.
What an experience. It was like no other. Something very unique and I am so delighted we got the chance to go and watch the All Blacks train.
Actually getting to watch them run through the type of drills they do each week. In the beautiful May sunshine too.
Not so fun:
The end. I would have happily watched all day, it was fascinating.
Would I go again:
In a flash!
Which kit would have you chosen? Carters or Daggs?