I’M IN NEW ZEALAND!!! Wow, this trip is going to be amazing. So on Saturday I got up super early after not going to bed until 3am because I procrastinated on packing and other tasks. I rode up with my coach Nate for our Sunsplash 7’s at Belmont Shore…we started the tourney a little slow, but picked up and ended with good communication and dangerous offense that helped us win all four games and take home the trophy (which was a sailboat…weird). The team was celebrating in appropriate rugby fashion with flip cup and pitchers all around (which I was watching with glass of water in hand) and I headed out to LAX for my flight to NZ!
Meeting the team for the first time was really exciting, and everyone was and is amped about this tour. We played a bit of a scavenger hunt to learn more about each other and hopped on our looooong flight to Aukland. I’m actually writing this with some intense jet lag leftover from getting to Christchurch this morning…so if there are any glaring grammatical problems sorry. Anyway, the long flight was actually ok…but I slept less than I thought I would. After only sleeping 3 hours the night before I thought I’d pass out immediately, but that wasn’t the case. Being the chatter that I am, I talked for a while and read my book for a few hours before finally falling asleep. I woke up 6 hours later at about 3am New Zealand time, which bodes well for acclimating, watched the movie 300 and some rugby, ate some interesting plane food and rolled out into the Aukland airport. Then we had to catch a shuttle to our next flight, and the greatest thing happened on the shuttle over to the plane. We were all crammed in the back of this bus just chatting and joking around…and after making several off-color comments and ridiculous jokes, this man sitting a bit away from us busts out laughing like he’d been holding it in forever…it was so great to just see this guy cracking up over us. And of course this was hilarious to us the the back of the bus erupted in laughter. Seeing that written down its really not that funny, but a lot of this might be some “had to be there” stuff.
On to the flight. Unfortunately, our flight to Christchurch was delayed for quite a while to wait for some peoples luggage (apparently not our teammates’ luggage though b/c 3 girls’ luggage got lost!). When we finally arrived in Christchurch, everyone was ecstatic to get off the plane. Then we put on our USA gear and rolled out as a team, but not before I got to see my SISTER!!! She lives near Christchurch and met me at the airport. So exciting!!! She told me she was bringing some fans to watch our game on Wednesday, so that is pretty amazing.
The morning in Cbristchurch was absolutely gorgeous. It was crisp, cool and sunny and we met our tour guide bus driver, Murray, who tells us interesting tidbits about everything New Zealand. It was so funny to hear on the bus how everyone would be chatting and he’d start on a bit about some random building built in 1816 and everyone would be quiet and listen like it was story time…I love it. So we drove to the hotel, which is completely bomb, and got our rooms/roommate assignments. My roommate is awesome, and after being with the team all day, I’m pretty sure everyone is awesome. We stayed at the hotel for a bit for breakfast, which really reminded me of Ireland, with rashers and sausages, complete with our American reactions to Marmite (Vegemite) on toast and generally being very excited about the cereal selection. Just a quick note: a lot of my entries might revolve around food. This is not an accident. It’s pretty much my favorite part of every day (besides the rugby)…but anyway. So after breakfast, we cleaned up and went on a short tour of the Christchurch area via the giant tour bus. It is absolutely beautiful here, and we met this really cool girls club from England at the view point who thought we were scary and hoped we weren’t their opposition (I was definitely stoked about that!) and had a chat with them, took some pictures and carried on with our sightseeing antics.
After the tour, we trained at a nearby park. The weather could not have been better, and everyone was very happy to be moving around and getting ready to play rugby. It’s exciting to see everyone we’re going to be playing with….it’s unbelievable how many talented people are on this team!
After training we had some down-time to shower and take a walk to City Centre. Our group headed to the Gas station for some candy, New Zealand dollars, and phone cards. We then were on an Ill-fated quest to find free Wi-Fi somewhere in the city. This lead us, in a roundabout way, to a snowboard shop in which we chatted to the locals about rugby in Colorado and by association our little story. That’s when they suggested that we stop by the radio station next door and give Christchurch a holler over the waves. So we headed there just having a bit of an adventure and chatted with the receptionist about rugby and whatnot, and she totally gave us a bunch of free stuff and wished us luck in our games!!! I’m getting a very good impression of Kiwis…the ones we’ve met so far have been very welcoming and friendly. After leaving the radio station with foreign Tang, Listerine, and muffin bars in tow, we walked what seemed like a billion miles to the Centre and the only Starbucks in the world without free Wi-Fi and the rugby shop. We then trekked back to the hotel in time for dinner and got changed into our USA stuff.
Dinner was pretty much amazing. I’ve been shuffling in and out of different groups to get to know the people on the team as well as possible, and dinner was especially amazing. We had to wait at first and thus played the name game to use the time…it was a bit more challenging than it should have been for a bunch of hungry, tired, and jet-lagged ruggers, but it ended abruptly with my qualifying factor being “starving”. My table was pretty much amazing and we were spouting off movie quotes, announcing our love of competitive eating, and laughing uncontrollably throughout dinner. There were a couple of close calls of soup shooting out of the nose for sure.
After dinner we had a team meeting and got the rest of our fabulous USA gear, which is completely amazing. I feel like its Christmas!! And at 7:30 in the evening here we were ready to pass out….I’m lasting longer than a few east coasters but they had a whole other flight all the way to LA before the 15-hour marathon flight to New Zealand from LA…lucky me.
Tomorrow will be a training day, and we have our first match the day after that. Wow, that’s quick. I really think this team has good things in store though. I just can’t wait to play rugby!!!! I’ll talk soon.