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Swapping their rugby boots for an apron, the All Blacks took their skills from the field to the kitchen in Akaroa, the last stop on the MasterCard All Blacks Roadshow.
A historical French and British settlement, the local challenge, waiter racing, draws on the small town’s rich heritage. And while the All Blacks are used to taking on the French, this was a whole new ball game.
The All Blacks were feeling pretty confident after a tough match against the Aussies to take the Bledisloe Cup the night before. But going into this challenge, all the boys in black could hope for was a draw when they faced off against the locals.
Things didn’t get off to a good start. With 30-50km winds and a constant downpour forcing a venue change, the MasterCard All Blacks Roadshow moved safely indoors to Akaroa Area School. Welcomed by the très bien local French Jive group, the All Blacks enjoyed the local talent before it was time to put the fancy footing aside and get ready for game time.
Donning their aprons, All Blacks Richie McCaw, Brad Thorn and Owen Franks prepared to race to the finish line, baguettes and trays of drinks in hand in place of rugby balls and facing old tyre obstacles instead of beefed-up rugby rivals. The locals, while they didn’t look quite as fearsome as the Wallabies, put up a pretty good fight.
All Black Captain, Richie McCaw, was hopeful he could lead the All Blacks to victory once more.
“We’re on such a high from our Bledisloe Cup win last night I don’t think anything can hold us back today and it’s great to come out and see our fans after playing in Christchurch. It would be fantastic to leave the MasterCard All Blacks Roadshow a three-all draw with the locals so I hope we can pull out the stops to make that happen today.”
In the end, Richie got his wish and took another win for the All Blacks with a table topping time of 10.4 seconds, narrowly beating speedy local Craig Rhodes who clocked in at 11 seconds.
The competition rounded up a draw, with the locals of Tokoroa, Taihape and Naseby beating the All Blacks at wood sawing, gumboot throwing and curling, and the All Blacks winning the Caber Toss, coal shovelling and now, waiter racing, in Waipu, Reefton and Akaroa.
As the community challenge drew to a close, the MasterCard All Blacks Roadshow wasn’t over for the local residents of Akaroa, who were yet to compete against the All Blacks in the rugby challenges.
Shaking off their waiter racing defeat, the town had a wonderful time testing their rugby skills catching, try-scoring, kicking, passing and competing in lineouts against their All Black heroes.
Ending the MasterCard All Blacks Roadshow on a high note, the All Blacks may not have been expecting wood sawing, gumboot throwing or waiter racing to be part of their training schedule, but let’s hope they keep up their fine form.
For more information on the MasterCard All Blacks Roadshow, please visit www.MasterCardroadshow.co.nz.