Kids caught in cruel All Blacks hoax get cheer-up from Highlanders instead

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Arrowtown School kids caught by a bizarre rugby hoax were all smiles when the Highlanders franchise stepped in to bring them some cheer.

Bosses from the Super 14 team were touched by a story in last week’s Mountain Scene revealing how 30 children were left in the lurch at the primary school when they expected a training session with All Blacks who hadn’t made the touring squad.

They’d also been promised T-shirts and tickets to an international match by a woman who rang the school claiming to be from the New Zealand Rugby Union.

The kids were left close to tears when nobody showed for the November 29 event and it turned out to be a hoax.

But the Year 3 and 4 pupils were thrilled when Highlanders’ junior rugby mascot Rugger travelled from Dunedin last Friday to surprise them with a heap of giveaways including team posters, bandanas, flags and a ball.

There was even more good news when Queenstown Events Centre also promised the youngsters free tickets to the Highlanders v Western Force game there on April 10.

“This has really cheered the kids up because they felt pretty bad about the hoax,” Arrowtown School sports coordinator Paul Winders says.

“It’s a great gesture from everyone who wanted to help.”