For those who don’t know, tell us Sammy, what was your role on tour?
I was there to oversee all aspects from a operations and logistics point of view. Basically, this is a fancy way of saying I was making sure all our fans were happy and having fun!
This was the biggest Northern Tour to date. How did the atmosphere differ in each venue/country?
I’ll start with England. Twickenham is absolutely incredible. I have never experienced a stadium of that size filled to capacity, really created a special buzz around the game. The English fans were loud and proud and their team definitely played up to the occasion. It was all in good spirit though and a great first game to kick off the tour.
If I was to sum up Dublin in one word, it would have to be pride. The Irish fans are a passionate bunch and you could tell they had a genuine belief in their team. I loved the “respect the kicker” unwritten rule. I think it would definitely be more intimidating kicking in complete silence than with screaming fans. The game itself was great, despite the result – the thing I loved about the Irish fans was that they were humble in victory!
This might sound a little silly but one of my favourite parts of the Italian stadium experience was the food, so good! The Italian fans are also another passionate group. I talked to a fair few and it seemed like they were almost more excited to see the All Blacks play live. It was a good performance by the All Blacks and a great way to round out the trip.
What was your favourite city to explore and why?
Rome was a huge highlight for me. It has always been on my bucket list to explore and I was stoked to be able to explore on tour. The food, the culture, the history Rome has it all! The Coliseum is a must see for anyone in Rome - I know it’s cliché but it really does live up to all expectations. You cant quite appreciate the sheer size of it until you are there, would have created some kind of atmosphere.
Best on tour moment?
The whole trip was full of great memories but I'd have to say our farewell dinner in Rome was my favourite experience. We visited a winery and explored the beautiful vineyard before we had a pasta making lesson and then ate of creations for dinner! It was cool because each group had become pretty close after the tour so was a perfect way to say goodbye and relax after an action-packed couple of weeks. Also for my first attempt at making pasta, it thought I did a pretty good job!
Any travelling tips for future customers?
No real groundbreaking tips – but I am always a firm believer in getting out of the hotel and exploring the city. If you can, i would recommend jumping on one of the free city walking tours. It let’s you get your bearings and discover little areas you might not have ever come across otherwise!