Canterbury cricket team The Willows have a secret weapon up their sleeve with former All Black and rugby union coach Robbie Deans dusting off his pads at the Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival next month.
The New Zealand rugby legend is taking a break from coaching Japan’s top rugby team, the Panasonic Wild Knights, to take part in a “less serious and more social” sporting engagement as part of the Christchurch Casino Golden Oldies Sports Celebration 2018, held at Hagley Park from April 1 – 29.
Deans will join some of cricket’s best mature athletes to bat it out during Cricket Week, expected to be one of the most popular weeks of the month-long sports celebration, organised by Vintage Sport and Leisure and supported by ChristchurchNZ.
Deans says the Golden Oldies ethos of fun, friendship and fraternity means that whatever players may lack in talent or ability, they make up in enthusiasm and love for the game.
“Golden Oldies sports are an opportunity to play sport the way it should be played, where the love of the game is more important than the score,” Deans says.
“I’ve got some good mates in the team from my school and Club years and we’re all looking forward to taking the competition off the field and into the beer tent, where no doubt the stories will flow and the embellishments as well.”
Best known for his rugby union career as an All Black, the coach of the Crusaders Super Rugby franchise and the longest serving coach of the Wallabies, Deans’ says cricket was actually his first sporting love, representing Canterbury in the Under 23 cricket teams of 1978 and 1979 and played for Canterbury Country from 1990 to 1995.
But there won’t be any fancy spin bowling, googlies or grubbers coming from Deans – he’s going in to bat for The Willows and hoping not to be sent off for a duck.
“I’m just hoping to get off the mark first and foremost, that’s a challenge when you only play once a year,” he says.
Deans is joining over 5,000 mature age sports enthusiasts from 12 different countries for the wider Christchurch Casino Golden Oldies Sports Celebration held in Christchurch next month, marking one of the city’s largest sporting events and the first time in history all iconic Golden Oldies games are held in the same city.
General Manager of Attraction, Linda Falwasser, says Christchurch’s strong cricket connection makes our city the perfect place to host the Golden Oldies sports celebration.
“As the stronghold of New Zealand cricket, Christchurch boasts excellent pitches on the magnificent Hagley Park Complex and on district club grounds throughout Christchurch and its surrounds,” she says. “We encourage the whole community to get involved, check out the games and enjoy the experience.”
Notes to editors:
- Sponsored by Christchurch Casino, the Christchurch Casino Golden Oldies Sports Celebration 2018 event will run from 1 – 29 April, 2018 and registrations for the various sports festivals close in March.
- For more information on events, teams or how to become a community volunteer for the 2018 Christchurch Casino Golden Oldies Sports Celebration, check out www.christchurchgoldenoldies.com