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Friday, October 2, 2015

Happy Days - Squeeze


Match days were the only days that we had to wear the Uniform. The Uniform was two shades of blue, neither of them too garish, so the clothing will be useful to wear after the event for watching rugby, walking the dog etc. The cap, of course is a different matter, but will serve as a souvenir for the event. We were told that we cannot sell before the end of the event. Sadly some people have already tried on eBay. I guess that they will be contacted to remove the items pretty damn quick. This is the third biggest sporting event in the world, and someone buying the kit poses a security threat – are they sports fans or terrorists?
On match day we had a variety of jobs to support the teams. These varied from making sure the press had stationary supplies, and water, to more exciting jobs like carrying the kit from the kit van to the changing room or pitch-side. One of my jobs was to take the water and Powerade (the event is sponsored by Coca Cola) to the changing rooms, match officials rooms, ball boys, and Anti-Doping etc. The players could order bottles of water, Powerade, or Powerade Zero. South Africa and Australia’s bottles were in the hundred’s, Samoa didn’t want Powerade Zero, just full fat and the amateur team, Uraguay, only ordered 55 bottles of water. Not a lot considering the warm weather, and the fact that a player can lose up to 7 litres of fluid per game. They probably aren’t used to what is on offer, and the fact that the other teams would carry some of the water away with them. We had strict instructions that the Eskys (drinks/ice butts) were not to leave with the teams, as at other grounds they had done. The Captain’s Run was Friday, and there were smaller orders that day. The Captain’s Run is when the teams run through moves etc. on the actual pitch and the Captain takes the training session. The water orders were smaller on those sessions. On Saturday morning we went with the drinks into the South African changing room. There was still a lot of drinks around, so we decided to consolidate and put them all together on the table in the changing room, rather than scattered around including cases in the shower room. I bent down to pick up the cases in the shower room, not knowing that the showers were automatic and I got wet, twice as I tried to do it for a second time from a different angle and the showers switched on again. I got wetter. Then my colleague showed me how to switch off the automatic bit to remove the cases in a drier manner.
On match day we had a variety of jobs to support the teams. These varied from making sure the press had stationary supplies, and water, to more exciting jobs like carrying the kit from the kit van to the changing room or pitch-side. One of my jobs was to take the water and Powerade (the event is sponsored by Coca Cola) to the changing rooms, match officials rooms, ball boys, and Anti-Doping etc. The players could order bottles of water, Powerade, or Powerade Zero. South Africa and Australia’s bottles were in the hundred’s, Samoa didn’t want Powerade Zero, just full fat and the amateur team, Uraguay, only ordered 55 bottles of water. Not a lot considering the warm weather, and the fact that a player can lose up to 7 litres of fluid per game. They probably aren’t used to what is on offer, and the fact that the other teams would carry some of the water away with them. We had strict instructions that the Eskys (drinks/ice butts) were not to leave with the teams, as at other grounds they had done. The Captain’s Run was Friday, and there were smaller orders that day. The Captain’s Run is when the teams run through moves etc. on the actual pitch and the Captain takes the training session. The water orders were smaller on those sessions. On Saturday morning we went with the drinks into the South African changing room. There was still a lot of drinks around, so we decided to consolidate and put them all together on the table in the changing room, rather than scattered around including cases in the shower room. I bent down to pick up the cases in the shower room, not knowing that the showers were automatic and I got wet, twice as I tried to do it for a second time from a different angle and the showers switched on again. I got wetter. Then my colleague showed me how to switch off the automatic bit to remove the cases in a drier manner.
We had an urgent team brief mid afternoon when we were told that we were required to move the ITV desk from pitch-side before the game, bring it back on at half time, remove it again and then bring it back on at full time. The presenters were Craig Doyle, Sean Fitzpatrick, George Gregan, and Francois Pienaar. All three have won the World Cup, with Pienaar being captain of the South African team in the iconic 1995 Final, where Mandela used sport (in this case Rugby) to unite the nation. Pienaar has also played for Saracens, so it was particularly exciting for me. I did also experience a great deal of trepidation. We only had 50 seconds to remove it from pitch-side. All week I had been wearing Safety Boots issued to me. They were too big, even with two pairs of socks on, and I had been tripping up stairs etc. I would have to run along the pitch pushing the desk with 40,000 people watching me. Luckily I did it without tripping although the wags in the crowd were all shouting: ‘Heave’, as if we were pushing in a scrum or a maul towards the line. After the game we had our photos taken with the presenters and I got to shake Pienaar’s hand. The hand that shook Mandela’s in that photograph, the hand that’s lifted the Cup.

The other pitch side job we had was to put out photographer’s stools and collect them all up again afterwards. They were really useful branded stools, that had gone walking at other grounds and so we were there to stop them walking. This meant that we were pitch side for both games. Not the best location from some points of view, but great to watch the tries being scored, whether a flying winger or a forward at the bottom of a maul. One guy, who ploughed his own furrow all week, had his face painted in the childrens’ zone both days, which was against the issued guidance for volunteers, but provided us with amusement, as to what he was going to do next. 
The real thrill for me was to go and fetch the South African teams’ kit on Saturday evening. We pulled the trolley through the players entrance into the corridor outside the changing rooms, whilst the kit man passed us the kit to put on the trolley. We were asked to pull the trolley out of the way, which meant that for an hour, we were watching the comings and goings from changing room to changing room. Years ago, players used to swop shirts straight after the game. For some reason this was deemed offensive, and they were instructed to do it in the changing rooms. This meant that the South Africans were taking their shirts into the Samoan changing room to swop. Oh for the old days as players went back into their own changing room bare chested. Bryan Habana had a jaunty pair of budgie smugglers with the South African flag on. The Samoan team had traditional dress on. Interestingly both team’s tTeam Manager was a woman. I think I missed my opportunity in life there with the game becoming professional long after I had to make career choices.
The wait meant that I missed the England Wales game. In light of the result, it was probably for the best as it meant that I went home tired but happy at my day’s rugby experience.

Cradle to the Grave - Squeeze Glenn and Chris back to their best

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