The true confessions of a rugby fan

Rugby tickets? Check
Plane tickets? Check
Passports? Check
Hotel room? Check
Banners, Flags and Jerseys? Check

These are vitally important to me most weekends. People might go out and party on the weekends, I go interstate or overseas to watch rugby.

Lauren embarks to New Zealand on a 2 week All Blacks trip

Lauren embarks to New Zealand on a 2 week All Blacks trip

These are my true confessions of my life as a dedicated rugby fan.

My year always starts the day after the final rugby game is played for the year in Australia. Every off season I’m planning my trips away for rugby and making sure my season memberships for the Reds & Waratahs are organised so I’m all set.

You’re probably thinking by now I’m probably crazy but I’m just one of many dedicated fans who do this, and we do it out of the love of the game.

Up until September 2010, I was living in Brisbane and I travelled to Sydney to every Waratahs home game that year.

That’s right – EVERY home game.

I even went to New Zealand too and managed to go to AMI Stadium in Christchurch & Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.

Why, you must be asking?

Three simple words – I LOVE RUGBY. I don’t care where I go or what I do, I love the game and love supporting the teams I follow.

Yes it can be expensive, yes I do have to make sacrifices to get there, but that’s the pride and passion I have for the game.

Sometimes it involves getting up at 4am to go to the airport, which can be a struggle, but not when you’re about to embark on a journey to see your favourite rugby player in another country.

I am the also the person behind the support group for Berrick Barnes, called Barnesy’s Army.

It all started back in 2009 when I decided to see the Reds play the Waratahs in Sydney. I had been watching the boys on a frequent basis at training and became a big fan of Berrick over the years and I wanted to do something different.

Lauren meets Saia Faingaa after the Waratahs vs Reds game in 2009

Lauren meets Saia Faingaa after the Waratahs vs Reds game in 2009

With time off from work I flew to Sydney to continue the support I have given them over the years.

I later booked a flight to backpack around New Zealand for 2 weeks and I thought “let’s make it a rugby trip” so I made sure to see the All Blacks play in Hamilton & Wellington when I was there.

I had a great time in New Zealand. The 2 weeks I was there there was a vibe of All Blacks support and met some fantastic people. I had a great time in Hamilton and Wellington at the two games and I even had the pleasure (& more the shock) of meeting All Blacks stars Dan Carter & Mils Muliaina in Wellington on my 2nd last day of my holiday.

Lauren meets Dan Carter in Wellington 2009

Lauren meets Dan Carter in Wellington 2009

In 2010 things certainly changed. With my avid support for Berrick, and him signed to the Waratahs, I made sure I wasn’t going to miss a moment of the action by going to the games.

I found out later that in the few months I travelled to see him play in Sydney and abroad, I clocked up over 40,000kms, had my luggage lost twice, had customs officials raising their eyebrows at my dedication and as an added bonus happened to be on the same flight as the Waratahs team on the from Christchurch, NZ.

My first trip in 2010, was to Canberra where I saw the Waratahs play the Brumbies in a trial.

My 2 most memorable moments of 2010 will always be Christchurch in April to see the Waratahs played the Crusaders and also when I did a double header weekend in Wellington & Hamilton in May when the Reds played the Hurricanes & the Waratahs played the Chiefs

Having grown up in New Zealand when I was young I still always get back to New Zealand. I had never been to the South Island before and now it’s quite surreal to think all the changes since the earthquake and some of the places I went to in Christchurch are non existent or have completely changed.

When I was in Wellington to watch the Reds play the Hurricanes I was invited to meet the players at their hotel, I got to meet past & present players plus also their sponsors who were on tour with the team.

Lauren outside AMI Stadium, Christchurch, April 2010

Lauren outside AMI Stadium, Christchurch, April 2010

The next day I was in Hamilton for the Chiefs vs Waratahs game and had a brilliant time. Some of the players were happy to see my support from afar and I got to meet some of the Chiefs players who I have come to respect.

I was then invited to sit in a corporate box the Reds vs Highlanders game for the Lady In Red function they had where 10/15 women who very rarely attend a rugby game where very interested in my stories on the road and my involvement for Rugby

Lauren meets Richard Kahui in Hamilton, May 2010

Lauren meets Richard Kahui in Hamilton, May 2010

Now that I live in Sydney, I have got to know the Waratahs staff very well and they appreciate greatly what I do for the team and what I do for Berrick as well, as this is where it all started from.

I am now learning to play rugby as well, I sacrificed a lot of my time to sit on the sideline as moral support last season and taking photos for the girls. This did impact on my travel to see the teams I support either overseas or interstate. I made sure to give up a Bledisloe Cup game in Brisbane in 2011 to watch my team win their grand final.

The only game I managed to get to in 2011 was the Reds vs Waratahs game in Brisbane.

In all the travelling I had done this was the most memorable of all the games. It was the first time in 8 years the Reds had beaten the Waratahs, and the vibe was unreal to be there.

Berrick wasn’t playing due to his concussion problems which was a huge downer for me however I met most the players post game & with some of them I hadn’t seen since 2010 it was fantastic to get photos with them and celebrate a fantastic achievement.

I am definitely booked to see the Waratahs played the Chiefs in Hamilton in 2012, which is around about the time the Sydney Women’s Rugby competition starts.

Berrick Barnes with some of Barnesy's Army (L-R Lauren, Erin & Tanyth) at Crowne Plaza, Parramatta August 2009

Berrick Barnes with some of Barnesy's Army (L-R Lauren, Erin & Tanyth) at Crowne Plaza, Parramatta August 2009

I do go to a lot of the International tests here in Australia. I am an All Blacks fan however I do support the boys who do play for the Reds or the Waratahs who play for the Wallabies.

In 2009, I flew to Sydney for the Bledisloe Cup and happened to be staying in the same hotel as the Wallabies. I had a great time got to meet some of the players, had photos with them.

Bledisloe in Melbourne in 2010 holds some of the more fond yet sketchy memories for me. I painted the town “black” so to speak after the All Blacks demolished the Wallabies and had a fantastic time. I fell in love with Melbourne after I went there and can’t wait to be back.

Lauren meets the Faingaa Twins in Melbourne 2010

Lauren meets the Faingaa Twins in Melbourne 2010

Due to study commitments I wasn’t able to attend the Rugby World Cup in 2011 but it was fantastic to watch it here in Sydney and especially to meet so many All Blacks fans at the Rugby World Cup final.

My partner, Lana is about to embark on this crazy ride. Hopefully she should be making her first appearance in Hamilton, NZ for the Chiefs vs Waratahs game.

These are my confessions as a rugby fan.

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