RWC adventurers seek final signature

LAURA WESTBROOK
Last updated 14:13 08/09/2011
Jodie Burton

Jodie Burton and Tom Hudson cycle 28,000km from Twickenham Stadium to Auckland, New Zealand to promote rugby across the world.

Brit cyclists on World Cup sojorn
GREAT MEETING: Former All Black John Kirwan, who added his signature to the World in Union scroll, with Tom Hudson during their travels.

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A rugby-mad English couple have cycled 28,000 kilometres through freezing temperatures, up mountains and through deserts, but they face their toughest challenge yet - getting Richie McCaw's signature.

During their 18 month journey from London's Twickenham stadium to Auckland's Eden Park, 30 year-old Britons Tom Hudson and Jodie Burton have been collecting signatures for their World in Union scroll - especially made for the World Cup.

Players, past and present, incuding John Kirwan and have signed the scroll along with rugby representatives from the 28 countries the pair cycled through in their journey to reach New Zealand.

One signatory is Rattana Pich who formerly made a living collecting rubbish from Phnom Penh's dumps before becoming captain of Cambodia's team.

"This guy is a real inspiration for us of what rugby can achieve."

The couple intend to present the piece of memorabilia to the Rugby Museum in Palmerston North, where it will be put on display. McCaw, the All Black's captain, is the final signature needed to complete the scroll.

"We want to turn up with Richie as our final one, because I believe he'll be the World Cup winning captain this year," said Hudson.

The couple's belief in McCaw extends to them supporting the All Blacks, over their own English team.

However, with the All Blacks preparations being kept tightly under wraps, finding Richie and obtaining his autograph could prove more difficult than initially thought.

"I texted him the other day but I don't know if it's his real number or not," Hudson said.

"We didn't get a reply. We're hoping to grab him when he's training in Christchurch."

The couple ditched their London banking jobs to bike to New Zealand for the World Cup to raise money for charity Tag Rugby Trust and uncover the real world of rugby in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

"The best thing for us has been the revelation that rugby is being played everywhere, and in the same spirit. The same culture has been found even in the middle of deserts and foothills of really remote mountains. We can find rugby clubs everywhere."

And there's no lack of support for the All Blacks, including in Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Hungary.

"We did a little tally where we ask every single rugby community around the world who they would like to win the World Cup and about 80 percent of people want New Zealand to win."

- Stuff

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