Six Irish Sevens players pitched their wits against residents at Hilda Ross Retirement Village today at a fun-filled quiz and morning tea.
As part of this weekend’s upcoming Sevens tournament at the FMG Stadium in Hamilton, the 28 participating teams sent out representatives to mingle with school holiday programmes, retirement villages and community organisations, and Hilda Ross scored the wonderful Irish.
Three men and three women arrived for a superb morning tea, chatting and mingling and posing for photos with the excited residents, many of whom had donned emerald green for the occasion.
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Resident Jack Linklater went shopping to kit himself out as a leprechaun, complete with orange hairspray for his hair and beard and green shamrocks painted on his cheeks and hands.
“I’m a fifth generation Kiwi but my mother was a Gilligan and I’m very proud of my Irish heritage,” he said.
His outfit was certainly a standout effort and prompted players Eve Higgins, Kathy Baker and Anna McGann to pose for photos with him (above).
The three Sevens men, Ed Kelly Andrew Smith and Will Goddard, were just as keen to mix and mingle and left the residents such as Shona Bull and Megg Hogg beaming.
All the players were blown away by the effort the residents had gone to.
“It’s so awesome,” said Eve. “Everyone looks great!”
“We really appreciate the trouble they’ve all gone to, we couldn’t have asked for a better welcome.”
Resident Shona Bull dons her emerald green hat to meet Irish Sevens player Ed Kelly.
Rebecca Aston, Major Events Manager for Hamilton City, said the community engagement was part of the lead-up to the weekend’s tournament.
As well as promoting the event, they wanted to put an emphasis on giving back to the community.
“This afternoon they’ll be going to the Salvation Army to help pack food parcels and they’ve done a few things with kids who just absolutely love it,” she said.
“The fact that the residents are dressing up, the teams just get blown away by how much they embrace it. They don’t expect it and they walk in and go ‘woah…’ that makes the players really enjoy it and they’ll rave about it for days.”
After a quick morning tea, it was straight onto the quiz, with time being of the essence due to the players’ busy schedules.
Quiz Master Robin Wilkinson organised two rounds of 10 multi-choice questions on sports and general knowledge and totted up the results.
“There’s nothing at stake here except perhaps getting one up over your neighbour or your husband!” he said.
There were plenty of laughs along the way, with a request from one resident for some easier questions met with a yellow card and Activities and Lifestyle Coordinator Lehanna Pio reporting player Eve Higgins for taking out her phone to google the answers.
Residents gather to pose for a group photo with the six Irish players, from left, Eve Higgins, Will Goddard, Kathy Baker, Ed Kelly, Anna McGann and Andrew Smith.
Resident Megg Hogg won the first round while player Kathy Baker took out the second round – but not before a key question was contested.
It all hinged on the name of the winning team of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup. Robin had mistakenly noted it as England but Eve Higgins pointed out that she was at the game and could verify it was actually New Zealand.
With that straightened out, Kathy Baker was the clear winner and it was time for a group photo, a veritable sea of green surrounding the six players.
Kathy even requested a last minute photo with two of the more shy residents, Collin Green and David Hopkins, who were sitting at the back of the room. Kathy told the men they were then heading off to receive their tournament shirts.
Tickets are still available for the tournament, which is the fourth to be hosted in Hamilton but the last to be hosted in New Zealand.