It's a mighty battle, without pigskin
Never say Waikato does not warmly welcome CrusadersANGELA CUMING
Never say Waikato does not warmly welcome Crusaders on to our patch. Hamilton Gardens was turned into part training ground, part battlefield yesterday and for once it had nothing to do with the rugby.
The blood and sweat - and clinking of chain mail - came from the White Company, a newly formed team of some of the best medieval recreationists drawn from around the North Island.
The squad is in training for the Battle of the Nations and hope to be the first Kiwi team to compete at the event.
The Battle of the Nations is an international medieval historical re-enactment festival and showcases full contact medieval fighting, one of the world's oldest and most dangerous sports.
The next event is slated for Warsaw next May, and the White Company hopes to make its presence felt.
The team's time in Hamilton at the weekend was a boot camp for the combatants, with the physically demanding sport taking months of practice and training.
Fighter Caitlin Rowsh, a nursing student, said the idea of the battle is simple.
"Basically you want to beat the bastard to the ground. It is essentially submissive fighting, and when three of your four limbs are on the ground you are dead. So you fall down and it's ‘boom, I'm dead'."
The Battle of the Nations would be the next step up for the fighters, she said, who are mostly used to smaller, local events. "This is on a whole different scale," she said.
The event does not judge the fighters on their skill with a sword and shield. Fighters must dress as close to the real deal as they can, and every effigy, stitched leather tunic, helmet, shield, the lot, must be able to be traced back to its original source.
Each suit of armour weighs 25 to 30 kilograms, without the padding.
Overseeing this mammoth task is team captain Sean Geenty, who goes under the fighting name "Seamus".
"This is a very physical, hard sport but it's also a lot of fun," he said.
"You will find you get all sorts of people attracted to it, those who love the history, the craft of making armour, and others like me who just like getting out there and hitting other people over the head."
And the hardest part of the preparation?
"Working out how on earth we are going to get all our swords, other weapons and suits of armour through customs," he said. "Let's just say we are working on that one."
For more details, or to join the fighters, see botnnz.org
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you agree with Hamilton City Council's plan to introduce a minimum living wage for its lowest paid workers?Related story: Hamilton City Council backs living wage