All Black Ma’a Nonu wasn’t just an idle spectator during the National Rugby Sevens in Queenstown last weekend.
Nonu (pictured, left) and former All Black star Junior Tonu’u played celebrity dodgeball after spending time cheering up Arrowtown School kids who had been caught in a bizarre rugby hoax.
Last month, a woman phoned the school claiming she would organise a Sunday session with All Blacks.
No one showed, and team management later said they had no idea about the event.
National Rugby Sevens organiser Richie Anderson teed up a real meeting at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.
“Remember that silly woman who decided to joke us? Well now the All Blacks are actually here,” Anderson told the excited bunch, moments before introducing them to their heroes.
“You can play with them. But don’t hurt them – we need them for the World Cup.”
The youngsters were ushered into the players’ area at the Recreation Ground to shake hands with Nonu, Tonu’u, Piri Weepu, Christian Cullen, Frano Botica, Alama Ieremia, Victor Vito and former Kiwi league star Logan Swann.
Arrowtown School teacher Paul Winders says it “definitely made up for [the hoax]”.
“The kids were all a bit in awe.”
Waikato won the final, beating Bay of Plenty 21-14 with a try on fulltime.