Rugby team's long wait for prize gear
A school rugby team promised a prize of new gear from the All Blacks' sponsors has had to finish the season in worn out boots after adidas failed to deliver.
The excitement of winning a national video competition waned as delays left the Taupo-nui-a-Tia College first XV still waiting for their prize as the rugby season closed.
In early April the college was told that the team's entry won the top prize in the national All in for adidas scholarship.
During the summer holidays the team got together to create the theme and content of their video entry, filmed over two days at the end of January.
The prize was a full adidas kit, including boots, customised jerseys, shorts, socks and tracksuits distributed to the team by members of the All Blacks.
Team manager Catherine Fraser said the team designed their uniform and by the end of May the designs and sizes were received by adidas.
Initially they were told that delivery would take six weeks but during that time adidas was made aware of a delay and told the school in mid-June that the uniforms would be another four weeks away.
Quentin Bleakley, adidas NZ country manager, said the delay was caused by an unforeseen holdup with an external partner - an Asia-based factory.
In the interim the team had begun their season and Fraser faced a constant barrage of questions from players and parents.
"Every time I saw one of the players around school it would be ‘miss, has our gear arrived yet' and the parents were also asking on game days," she said. "Some of the kids were still using old boots held together with tape."
Finally a date for delivery was set with a schedule sent to the school outlining a programmed visit from some All Blacks last Tuesday, just days before the first XV's final game of the season.
However, the school was then told the visit would not happen "due to reasons beyond adidas' control".
Instead gear was couriered to the school but, rather than the school's red, the shorts and tracksuits received were black, due to problems at the factory, Bleakley said.
Though the players were happy to at least play last Saturday's game in some new gear, missing the opportunity to learn from their heroes was more disappointing.
"We were meant to have skill drills with the All Black players and were looking forward to that," first XV second-five Jade Hema-Allen said.
Bleakley said the All Black visit would be scheduled as soon as "their diaries allow". The correct shorts and tracksuits were expected to arrive in six to eight weeks, cold comfort for the players whose season ended last weekend.