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From Sport Lived to England Rugby Captain

• Posted in New Zealand / Rugby Union • By Ian

Growing up playing rugby you quickly learn that New Zealand is 'rugby country' so obviously at some point I had to go out there and experience what rugby culture is truly meant to be. And what better time to do it than in a year out before going to university – a year of no education and all rugby sounded pretty good to me!

After 24+ hours of solo travelling I made it to the other side of the world and was greeted by Tanaya from Sport Lived - our kiwi mum. After being shown around Christchurch I quickly settled into my room and met the other customers that I would be living with. There were 5 of us all together at that time and I was very lucky with the group I had as we all got on really well and they looked after me being the only girl. But I'm thankful I got my own room as I don't think I could've dealt with their mess for 8 weeks!  



The following day I got thrown straight into training at the Rugby Academy. I wasn't really sure what to expect and being the only girl I was a bit nervous. I had nothing to worry about though as I fitted in straight away and we became a really close group during the 8 weeks we were together. The facilities were the best I had ever trained in and it was pretty cool training in the same place as the Super Rugby champions the Crusaders - it's not every day you walk past All Blacks Captain Kieran Reid! Training was intense with 2 sessions a day and on top of this I had club training Monday and Wednesday nights and a game on Saturday, but I wouldn't change a thing. The level of coaching I received was world class and I improved so much as a player out there. I felt like a professional athlete; getting up in the morning knowing that the only thing I had to do was play rugby was an amazing feeling. 



Sport Lived organised some great socials for us like going to watch the Crusaders play in the Super Rugby competition, but my favourite had to be our trip to Hanmer Springs. We spent the morning white water rafting and jumping off rocks into the freezing cold water followed by an afternoon relaxing in the hot pools. The scenery was amazing and made me realise why New Zealand is so famous for its natural beauty.

During my time in New Zealand I wanted to discover more of the country so when my rugby programme ended I went travelling for 2 weeks. I travelled all around New Zealand’s south and north islands and got to experience some amazing things. My favourite being a 132m bungee jump in Queenstown - sorry Dad! 



Coming home from my trip was one of the saddest goodbyes and I would've stayed longer if I didn't have rugby to come back to in England. The summer following my trip to New Zealand I captained England U20s on our summer tour of Canada where we lifted the Tri-Nations Cup after an immense 2 weeks playing Canada and USA U20s. I improved so much as a player by getting the opportunity to play in New Zealand and I put my summer success down to this. 



So to any customers thinking about Sport Lived, I cannot recommend it enough. My trip couldn't have been any better. I met some of the most amazing people both at the rugby academy and my club, and some of the other customers became my closest friends. The experiences I had on and off the field were once in a lifetime and I am so glad I did it. Massive thank you to everyone at Sport Lived who helped organise my trip, and especially to Tanaya for looking after me so well in Christchurch!

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