The red fans came, saw and loved it
Kiwi hospitality is part and parcel of rugby culture, just ask the Johnsonville Rugby Football Club.
The Wellington club’s members have opened their doors to travelling British and Irish Lions’ supporters and allowed them a parking space for their campervans.
With the second test match due to be played on Saturday in Wellington, some red-clothed rugby fans have already taken up the offer and made the club’s carpark and its facilities their temporary home.
There were about 30 Lions fans in the clubhouse watching the Hurricanes play to a 31-31 draw against the Lions in Wellington on Tuesday.
The visitors kept Johnsonville member Mike Segetin busy behind the bar as supporters of both teams watched.
‘‘This is what we do, this is natural.
‘‘There is nothing different about whether people here are Poneke rugby supporters or Lions supporters. They are people who are happy to have a beer, a feed and talk rubbish. Just so happens some are here a little longer than most of our patrons.
‘‘And the way it’s going, we’ll have close to 40 campervans come Saturday.’’
Most of the club’s temporary residents came upon the chance accommodation when they met Johnsonville members at other Lions games.
‘‘A bus load of our members went away to the Maori and the Chief’s games and ran into some of them up in Hamilton and Rotorua. They told them they would be welcome at the Johnsonville rugby club.
‘‘So, we’ve got a bit of fun rivalry between the locals and the tourists. We give them a bit of stick and it makes them feel at home.’’
For Welshmen Simon Johnson, his dad Phil, Antony Sadd, and Gareth Edwards, the hos- pitality is the icing on the cake for their road trip.
‘‘Simon is searching for places and finds Johnsonville RFC, which is great because me and my boy are Johnsons. We bought some of their rugby jerseys, which will go back to our club at home.
‘‘Everywhere we go, every person we’ve met have been incredibly friendly - tooting at our Welsh flag. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our trip.’’
‘‘It makes you proud as as a Kiwi when you hear the tourists say how amazing Kiwi hospitality is. Not just here but everywhere,’’ Segetin said.
‘‘A lot people on the road want to spend time with locals, not with other Poms because they can do that at home.
‘‘These people wanted to come to a New Zealand rugby club and meet rugby-loving New Zealanders, and you won’t find more rugby-mad Kiwis than us.’’
Johnsonville Rugby Football Club’s Mike Segetin (centre) shows British and Irish Lions’ supporters the meaning of Kiwi hospitality.