Lovell Rugby recently teamed up with adidas and the New Zealand All Blacks to offer a lucky competition winner the trip of a lifetime to watch England take on the World Champions and number one Test ranked side in Auckland.
The lucky winner of this trip was Dawn Reed and she chose to take husband Neville to New Zealand with her to share the whole adventure. As well as tickets to the first Test which the All Blacks narrowly won, they also got to experience the Captains Run, the sights of Auckland and even got to share a hotel with the players.
After returning home, we caught up with our winner to ask a few questions about their exciting trip……
What did you get up to in the days leading up to the game and after?
We arrived in New Zealand late Monday night so it wasn’t until we went to breakfast that we realised we were staying at the same hotel as the All Blacks! We tried to stay as casual as possible as we walked past Richie McCaw, saying ‘good morning’ as if seeing him was an everyday occurrence. He looked so formidable and very focused, however he still said hello to us! I would have been quite happy staying in the hotel hanging out with the All Blacks team all day but we felt we should explore Auckland whilst we were there. The first few days we spent going on a couple of coach tours that took us around Auckland giving us a good overview of the whole area. We went up the Sky Tower and had a meal in the revolving restaurant, quite unnerving. We also went on a Harbour tour, catching a look at a few of the islands and the Auckland bridge where some brave souls bungee jump from. We caught the ferry across to Devonport, and went on a coach tour around the town visiting the site where the Navy took over during the war and saw the vanishing guns.
The under 20’s rugby world championship was taking place in Auckland so we managed to get tickets to see England play Australia and also New Zealand play South Africa. England being the current champions were under pressure but won 38-24. We also saw Freddie Burns in the crowd who was watching his brother Billy play.
What was it like experiencing the Captains Run?
The Captains Run was a real money can’t buy experience. We got to see the All Blacks run through all their moves, they looked really sharp, especially without a defence! Individual players practiced their various kicking skills and they ran through the Haka which was quite breathtaking. Towards the end they let the media in to take photos and interview Richie McCaw. We then got invited onto the pitch to have our photo taken with them. It was awesome.
Were you surprised by the size of any of the New Zealand All Blacks squad?
We were really surprised at the size of most of the backs as they are all very lean and don’t carry extra muscle bulk. Conrad Smith, Colin Slade and Aaron Cruden appeared quite average in size. The forwards, however, were ginormous and close up were very intimidating.
Overall, how was the match?
Eden park is a great stadium, smaller than Twickenham but nevertheless a great atmosphere. Before the game we watched the Black Ferns (NZ women’s team) beat Samoa by over 80 points, so the fans were already on a high. However, when the game started I think England really shocked the All Blacks and the crowd was almost silent. The match was really exciting, we thought England were actually the better team as the All Blacks were making more mistakes and missing so many tackles. It was just the quick thinking of Cruden that won the match.
What was your favourite moment of the whole trip?
Our favourite moment of the whole trip was meeting Aaron Smith and Colin Slade for coffee. We had spent the night before doing research on them and thinking of questions to ask, and getting quite worried about it. However we needn’t have worried at all, it was so relaxed and just like sitting having coffee with our sons. They were really great lads and although we were only supposed to be with them for 30 minutes they stayed for over an hour, due to them chatting so much and not us!
Any final words on your VIP experience?
I can’t thank you enough for such a great prize, the trip to New Zealand was fantastic and meeting the All Blacks truly amazing, memories to treasure for a lifetime. We must also mention the adidas team who were extremely hospitable and made us feel very welcome.