Pirates Head to Chiefs Country

The NZ Trip

Tuesday 16th May 2017


Pirates in New Zealand - The Full Story

The coaching staff of Alan Paver, Gavin Cattle and Chris Morgan accompanied by General Manager Tom Magill have returned from an intensive and highly rewarding two weeks in New Zealand.

The trip - a fact finding tour for both rugby and business operations - was made possible thanks to Cornish Pirates Director Martin Hudson.

After a long flight from the UK they arrived in New Zealand on ANZAC Day Tuesday 25th April and were met by former  Pirate, Laurie McGlone at Auckland Airport, a very welcome face after leaving the UK on Sunday 23rd.

Laurie generously hosted the coaches and provided transport for the group to get around Hamilton, within the Waikato region on New Zealand’s North Island, which was to be the base for the majority of the visit.

Getting straight down to business, the group watched Waikato University’s under 21’s, coached by Laurie, play Hamilton Old Boys that afternoon in gloriously warm sunshine, finishing off with a BBQ at Laurie’s that evening, a great start to the trip.

FMG Waikato stadium

The next four days saw a mix of rugby and commercial activities with the coaching staff meeting Waikato’s coaching staff, led by Sean Botherway and the Chiefs coaching staff under the direction of Dave Rennie and meetings with the CEO’s and commercial managers and staff of both organisations.

The weekend began with the Chiefs captains run in preparation for their super rugby game v the Japanese team the Sunwolves, which was staged in the FMG Waikato stadium on Saturday evening.

Prior to that event the group watched the local team, Hamilton Marists play United Matamata Sports Club on a very wet Saturday afternoon at the Marist’s very well supported club in Hamilton, an unexpectedly tight game with great skills in very poor conditions.

The evening event, a very well-staged evening game, was a win for the Chiefs, but it was clear that they were not playing as expected given the reaction to the match in the local media and was clearly a key focus for training at the start of the new week.

Chiefs training programme

A new week and new experiences with the Chiefs training programme and individual time with key figures within the Chiefs rugby and administration was the focus for Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday was a key moment for the coaching staff with a meeting with Ian Foster, a long standing Waikato man and former Chiefs coach and now the All Blacks assistant coach.  Ian generously spent two and half hours with the group discussing all things rugby.

A highlight of the week was a Taste of New Zealand organised and presented by Dallas Fisher, Chairman of the Chiefs and owner of Montana the stadium caterers. This was 6 courses of delightful food of New Zealand accompanied by regional wines and the good company of the people who had been assisting the group over the preceding days, a great evening

Thursday proved an intensive day at the Chiefs with insights into the team meetings, training and analysis, in between an understanding of the Chiefs and Waikato’s International Development Programme, the culture of New Zealand rugby today and their player pathway.

Chiefs versus Queensland Reds contest at the Yarrow Stadium, Plymouth

On Friday the group travelled with Cornish Pirates Director and Waikato’s Chairman Colin Groves, who had made the arrangements for the trip within New Zealand, to New Plymouth, where the Chiefs were to play the Queensland Reds in the Yarrow Stadium.

On route, the group took time to visit the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves and eat a local delicacy of Whitebait Fritters near Awakino on route to New Plymouth.

Mount Taranaki

Staying with the Chiefs in New Plymouth, Saturday morning was spent visiting the snow-capped Mount Taranaki for some magnificent views of the local area. Early afternoon the group enjoyed a behind the scenes tour of the Yarrow Stadium with Taranaki Rugby Unions CEO Mike Collins, formerly of London Irish.

Mike also gave the group a tour of the local New Plymouth Boys School, the local area and ended by watching the New Plymouth Old Boys play Spotswood, again with a very well attended club game in sunshine.

The evening saw the Chiefs put everything from the week into practice defeating the Reds 47-17, with last minute replacement for Aaron Cruden, Steven Donaldson,  touching down twice, much to the crowds delight.

The journey back to Hamilton was broken up with a visit to the Kiwi House in Otorohanga to see the famous flightless bird, pack and head back to Auckland courtesy of Laurie for the epic journey back to the UK.

The visit was certainly a highlight in terms of a greater understanding of technical, tactical rugby and how two significant rugby organisations operate behind the scenes with much to take away and put into practice.


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