Fans thrilled at chance to rub shoulders with heroes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 October, 2010, 12:00am

The fans love it. Those who have bought their tickets already, and even those who haven't - but now promise to - are excited at the prospect of meeting their heroes during the Bledisloe Cup Fan Day on October 24.

'This is a wonderful idea,' Paul Spain said. 'Alexandra, my seven-year-old daughter, is already excited at the idea of meeting the Wallaby players.'

Spain, a teacher at Australian International School, was reacting to the move by the three unions - Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong - to allow ticket holders access to the players at the So Kon Po rugby pitch on the Sunday prior to the October 30 showdown at Hong Kong Stadium.

'I have already got our tickets. Without a doubt I will be there on Fan Day too. This is such a great idea, especially in a place like Hong Kong where the need to spread the rugby message to the community is important,' Spain said. 'This interaction will undoubtedly benefit the children. It is good to see the All Blacks and the Wallabies will be involved in other things apart from playing 80 minutes on the field.'

Unlike Spain, Eileen O'Connell has not got around to buying her ticket. But she promised that would be No1 on her must-do list, and praised the organisers for coming up with Fan Day.

'It is a great idea and a clever piece of marketing. I'm not Aussie or a Kiwi, but I'm a big rugby fan and for me this is clearly an incentive to get a ticket,' she said. 'I will be there.'

Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman Trevor Gregory revealed on Friday that only about half the tickets at the 40,000-seat stadium near Causeway Bay had been sold.

Gregory said the Fan Day would give the public - ticket holders only - the chance to 'rub shoulders with the players and get their autographs'. Players from both teams will also run coaching clinics.

Fergus Ho Wai-ming, the force behind mini-rugby-club Aberdeen Dolphins, said Fan Day would inspire young children. 'I know the chance to meet their heroes and have direct contact will mean a lot to children. This will encourage them even more.'