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Highlanders fans enjoy meeting the team and coaches

Wednesday 8 July 2020 2:58pm

Alumni and their families attended two Highlanders’ events which coincided with the team playing their southern rivals, the Crusaders, at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday 4 July.

A crowd of around 100 alumni, University staff and their family members attended the Captain’s Run. For the first time staff and their families were also invited to the event, which was held on Friday afternoon at the stadium.

Alumni Engagement Manager Donnella Aitken-Ferguson says several signed Highlanders team jerseys, double match passes and other Highlanders gear was given away on the day.

“It’s always a great event, and the Highlanders invariably put on a great show for their fans.”

Highlanders Commercial Assistant Connor Burrows says, “it’s always great to get the supporters along, especially the kids, to see that their heroes are doing the same things as they are in their training preparation before a game.”

Connor completed his Bachelor of Physical Education last year, and due to the pandemic, will now graduate at an additional graduation ceremony in August. Originally from Wellington, he has two younger brothers at Otago, one doing third year surveying and another doing his first year in Health Sciences Division.

“We all went to Studholme College, it’s such a friendly place to stay. It’s small enough that you get to know all the other residents.”

University Research Adviser Kate Berard says it was great to attend the event as she had never been to anything like it before. She brought a friend along who was very interested in seeing the Highlanders. Kate won tickets to the game and her friend won an autographed Highlander’s jersey.

Attendee Emeritus Professor John Burrows says he has a season ticket and gets to most of the Highlanders games.

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark told the crowd that the Captain’s Run is the last training before a match, and the team captain takes the players through some of the moves before the game. He added that the Highlanders song, which was first heard in the nineties, but had been absent in recent years, was returning for all remaining home matches.

All Black legend Ben Smith, who is waiting to start a new rugby contract in Japan, was at the event supporting his old team.

“It’s great to have those guys in the mix, what they add in terms of their professionalism and experience is fantastic for the younger players,” says Roger.

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Members of the management and coaching team met with alumni for breakfast on game day, where Assistant Coach Tony Brown talked about mental preparation ahead of games, and Strength and Conditioning Coach Simon Jones gave insights around training based on GPS and other data that is collected from the players.