The big­gest scrum of all

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

They came, they stood, they lined, they crouched, they bound and they set.

Unof­fi­cially, there were 1758 ‘‘scrum-hug­gers’’ who, in bril­liant sun­shine on the boggy grounds of Palmer­ston North Boys’ High School, were aim­ing to set a new world record.

That num­ber was more than enough to break the of­fi­cial record for the world’s largest scrum set last year in Fukuroi, Ja­pan, with 1565 par­tic­i­pants, and enough to sneak past a pend­ing record set in April this year, at Lim­er­ick, Ireland of 1740.

Reffed by Dun­can Liengme, Black Ferns full­back Sel­ica Wini­ata put the ball into the scrum, where it was hooked, and then it was all over.

The record at­tempt’s old­est par­tic­i­pant was Pauline Scott, 84, ar­dent rugby fan from Ron­gotea.

The diminu­tive Scott found her­self in a lock­ing po­si­tion in the sec­ond row of the ’’black’’ scrum.

‘‘I just love the game,’’ Scott said, a bit be­mused by all the at­ten­tion be­ing paid her.

While wait­ing for the at­tempt to get un­der way, she was be­friended by Doug Price from South Wales, wear­ing a black Ospreys jer­sey, and part of a con­tin­gent of Lions sup­port­ers who turned up for the event.

Some had driven up spe­cially from Welling­ton, some were still mak­ing their way south for the sec­ond test on Satur­day. Others had been stay­ing in the area where they had passed the time white wa­ter raft­ing, watch­ing Wed­nes­day’s King’s Cup rugby match, check­ing out the New Zealand Rugby Mu­seum, and golf­ing.

The scrum at­tempt’s youngest par­tic­i­pant was Oliver Sil­ver, 2, who came with his brother Fin­lay, 4, and rugby fan mum Ni­cola Sil­ver.

‘‘I wasn’t go­ing to come, but I heard they were short of people,’’ she said. She and her boys packed down in the back row.

While Boys’ High propped up most of the scrum, not all of the school’s 1793 pupils took part.

The num­bers were sup­ple­mented by sol­diers from Lin­ton Mil­i­tary Camp, mem­bers of the Tur­bos squad, and others who came along to see what it was all about.

Event co-or­di­na­tor Karen Hea­phy said putting the the record at­tempt to­gether was some­thing quite spe­cial.

‘‘I’m pretty shat­tered. I feel as if I’ve played a game of rugby, ac­tu­ally.‘‘

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIR­FAX NZ

More than a thou­sand people at­tempt to break the record for world’s big­gest scrum at Palmer­ston North Boys’ High School.

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