January 27, 2011
I finally had a chance to meet with some of the top rugby players in all of New Zealand today. While many other sports are popular such as cricket, softball and netball, rugby is without a doubt the sport that gets this nation going.
In the morning, we rode over to meet with the Blues, which is one of the top pro teams in the country. Some members of the Blues also play for the famed All Blacks, which has gained a worldwide following.
First thing I did when we arrived was speak to the entire team, and it was fun to do a Q&A with them. I think that is both beneficial to myself as well as them to see that we are all professional athletes, meaning our training methods and passions for competing and winning are the same. We shared a lot of stories and then I was given a tour of the facilities.
I was then honored to be presented with both Blues and All Blacks jerseys from the Prime Minister, the Blues CEO, coach and captain. The All Blacks jersey in New Zealand is the equivalent of the Yankees jersey in the U.S. Children grow up dreaming of playing for the All Blacks.
Following the presentations, I then had a chance to sit in on the team's workout. I watched some players using a hand bike like I've never seen it pushed before. Usually pitchers get on one and just kind of loosely use it to warm up their arms. These guys were going really hard and fast-paced on it.
I then moved over to the field and watched rugby for the first time. I was impressed with the speed and athleticism of the players. The first thing I wondered is if the NFL ever looks at some of these guys for positions such as fullback or linebacker. A lot of the same skills are utilized.
Finally, I flew to Queenstown, where the vacation portion of this trip begins. I look forward to shooting some videos of the adventures we have planned for you guys!