Sir Brian Lochore's warm Wairarapa welcome

(RNZ 2011) Wednesday 26 January 2011
Sir Brian Lochore's warm Wairarapa welcome
Sir Brian Lochore with Georgian Assistant Coach Ilia Maisuradze.

Rugby World Cup-winning coach Sir Brian Lochore believes that the Wairarapa provides the ideal environment for teams to prepare for RWC 2011...

The Masterton farmer famously brought the All Blacks over the Rimutakas in the lead-up to their final pool game in 1987, and billeted the players with families in the small Wairarapa hamlet of Pirinoa.

Lochore explains his historical decision: “It was something that we conjured up three or four days before and wasn’t planned. I felt we needed to get away from the big cities and just do something a little bit different.”

It’s with this philosophy that Lochore is welcoming the Georgian national team to the region. The team will spend a week in the Wairarapa, despite there being no fixtures in the province. “It is an honour for the people of Wairarapa, particularly the Rugby folk and it is just as important for all of our residents to be able to host a national team. I know that Georgia are not way up at the top end, but they are still here, still representing their country and certainly wanting to do well.”

Lochore believes the Wairarapa is unique. “It offers relaxation, beauty, a true New Zealand environment. A typical New Zealand farming country scene, with some beautiful little towns with plenty of accommodation and it’s so close to Wellington, which is only an hour away. Being close to a city centre in a totally different environment is important.”

The assistant coach of the Georgian team, Ilia Maisuradze, recently met up with Lochore when he visited the Wairarapa. “We talked about the uniqueness of the Wairarapa, the range of outdoor activities such as fishing and hunting and the vineyards. I suggested to him that we are very happy to get 20 local families to host a couple of Georgian team players for an evening for a typical Kiwi meal.”

Lochore hopes that Georgia not only enjoys the experience of RWC 2011, but also the experience of the Wairarapa. “It’s about playing and enjoyment at the very highest level, it’s about being on the other side of the world. The Wairarapa is totally different to anything you are going to find anywhere else in New Zealand and in fact anywhere else in the world for that matter. We are a Rugby crazy country, even underdogs like Georgia are going to be a focal point of our region while they are here. This will be something the team has never ever experienced anywhere else in the world."