THE All Blacks face a tough challenge this weekend as two teams of current and former players head out to Italy.
Colne and Nelson are to play a first team fixture with Pescara Rugby tomorrow and a veterans’ fixture on Sunday playing Sulmona Rugby Club.
It’s the first time in the club’s long history that both old and new players will be joining forces in true All Black style to sample Italian rugby and hospitality, and only the second time the club have played rugby abroad.
A total of 31 players are travelling from the club and are looking forward to not just playing rugby, but to promote English rugby and camaraderie.
The first team fixture tomorrow will be against Pescara, a team who are rising high in Italian rugby and will no doubt be formidable opponents for the All Blacks.
Stew Wilkin, the tour organiser, has been to see the Pescara boys in action: “They play quick flowing rugby which will compliment the style of our current first team, but Colne will have to dig deep if they are to compete in all areas of the game.”
Pescara will then host the All Blacks at a nearby restaurant.
On Sunday, the veterans’ match is to be played at Sulmona Rugby Club, a team who are genuinely looking forward to the visit and have even invited the mayor and his wife to attend the game and to start the official proceedings.
Sulmona have a thriving junior section but no current competitive first team, so a veterans’ fixture is an ideal opportunity to dust off the old boots and have a run out with some old rugby pals, just as the boys from Colne will be doing.
Again the All Blacks will be welcomed afterwards by Sulmona for a barbeque and a few well-earned drinks.