2016 honestly been all about the awesome. As if January wasn’t enough with my fantastic birthday celebrations, this weekend I got to be Dragon Lady again with the St George Illawarra Dragons at the Auckland Nines.
First things first, the Dragons did not go well in the comp. We didn’t win a game. Personally I think we were a bit unlucky, there were some calls that did not go our way at all. But we did have our chances and unfortunately didn’t take them. The team was bitterly disappointed.
What did I actually do – apart from take selfies? My role was to help the help the team manager make sure the team were at all of their activities, that their accommodation and food were sorted, and that nothing was left on the bus. And trust me, getting a team of men and all their gear to a variety of events is a bit of a logistical exercise, and gosh these boys can eat. So if they have finished training and are ready for dinner – dinner had better be ready.
The great thing for me was having done this role last year, I was more confident about what I needed to do. The Dragons are a well organised, nice group of people who are easy to work with. That certainly helps as well. They obviously take what they do very seriously, but they manage to do it without being Prima Donnas.
The highlights for me this weekend – in no particular order
- The team club visit out to Papakura on Friday afternoon. The Papakura Sea Eagles went to a great deal of effort to make sure that the Dragons felt welcomed and appreciated. As I told the boys they got a far better Powhiri than the TPPA delegates did
- The genuine interest the team displays in Maori and New Zealand culture. I was constantly being asked, what does this word mean, what is this place like?
- Seeing the Rainbow Flags flying over the Aotea Centre while the Team Fan Day activities took place
- Feeling proud of the organisation at Eden Park, and how impressed the team were with the ground and the atmosphere at and around the Nines
- Meeting Raelene Castle!!!! Raelene Castle is such an inspirational woman. She is CEO of the Bulldogs, a top sportswoman in her own right, and she has such a lovely manner about her. And she is a Kiwi – fabulous. I think I was more star struck meeting her than Shaun Johnson.
- Being on the sideline with our boys warming up while the Warriors were playing. The crowd went wild
- Being on the sideline, when the streaker ran on to the field. The crowd also went wild
- The Kiwi Ferns winning their series against the Jillaroos
- Getting a kiss from Benji Marshall when he arrived at the airport. He remembered me from last year. Can I just say Maori and Polynesian boys know how to treat old ladies
- Getting to know some of the Kiwi guys in the team. Kalifa and Sebastine are just lovely, I really hope they have both have a great season
- Admittedly it was a young side, but realising that 6 of them were younger than Lauren, and I was old enough to be the mother of all of them. Just as well I have come to terms with being 50, that’s all I’m saying
- Realising that my hair was so much crazier than Josh Dugans. Hat hair not a good look when you are going for that cool selfie
I am sorry that the team didn’t go better at the Nines. But I hope that the experience helps them once the Premiership competition starts up. I also hope they don’t go looking anywhere else next year when they need a Dragon Lady for the Nines – it really is the best job ever.
And finally Mary K who writes an excellent blog called Ladies Who League and is a passionate Parramatta Eels supporter (she was one happy camper as you can imagine) She wrote what I think is an excellent summation of the event. Not everyone is a fan of the Nines, there is the risk of players getting hurt before the proper season even starts, and some just see it as an unnecessary distraction, but she is quite right it is a fantastic celebration of Rugby League, and Auckland does a great job of hosting it. Long may it continue.