I have just come back from 48 hours back in England for my “Home Turf” event – the last part of the process leading up to the start of the tournament.

So, to get here what have I, and all of the other 6000 successful volunteers been through I hear you ask? No? well I am going to tell you anyway!

When the call came out for volunteers some 20,000 plus applied and over 10.000 were interviewed and then 6000 were offered a position. A 24 hour trip back to Twickenham for a morning of presentations, an interview and sizing for the kit we would be wearing – By the way, the stuff we were trying on looked horrendous – drab, soulless and frankly uninspiring. We were constantly been told that the final article would be much, much better. More about that later. The interview was what I would imagine speed dating would be like. A whirlwind 10 minutes where the interviewer was hard pressed to get the information they needed and the interviewee had to really think quickly in order to get their point over.

After what seemed like an age, I was lucky enough to be offered a “Job” in The Pack – the fantastic name for the thousands of volunteers- my first choices of venues (Gloucester and London) and job (Driving VIP’s etc). To be honest, I had pretty much given up believing i would be chosen when the deadline we had been given had come and gone. I guess the processing just took longer than anticipated.

So role secured…. what’s next?

Another three face to face stages and a whole raft of on line work to be done. Way more than I had anticipated.

Another event in Bristol where specifics about our roles were discussed and then, a month or so later, a big event at Stadium MK (Milton Keynes) with numerous stars of the rugby world present – Dalaglio, Greenwood, Alfonsi to name a few. Amongst many other things this is where the kit we would be wearing was unveiled. They were right…. it is so much better than the awful stuff we tried on 6 months before. It has to be said that the event at Milton Keynes was totally voluntary and I did not attend – my flight and accommodation budget has already been blown out of the water so to go on a jolly to Stadium MK would not have gone down well at home!

Back home, the “E-Learning” and Driver Accreditation began. Two electronic modules to complete full of information and scenario based questions on the venues, health and safety issues and general issues that we might be faced with. Then there was the BIGGIE. The driver awareness training. Having had to get your license checked we then had to do a test and what a test it was.

Not having looked at a “Highway Code” book for some 33 years’ the depth of the questions surprised me – stopping distances, road signs and so on. Worse of all though were the video based questions – unfolding scenarios followed by a question when the screen freezes. The question could be on something that has happened – potential hazards, or what might be coming up – what road signs have there been warning you of something coming ahead or what might you have seen in your mirrors and how does that affect what you can / can not do. Hard! To add insult to injury, you are then assessed and get sent your remedial work to do.

The agency are quite canny. they give you a list of the mandatory modules you need to complete AND pass and then a whole raft of other modules that they recommend you complete. catholic guilt (even though i’m not a catholic) kicks in any you do the whole lot. Several hours work.

So, back to the “Home Turf” event. A three hour event where we, most importantly, got our official accreditation document and the kit. Which is, I have to say, fantastic – maybe with the exception of the had which is…. lets leave it at VERY bright! Quality kit made by a quality supplier Musto and it looks awesome. The remaining 2 1/2 hours was taken up by  interactive lectures on the venue we will be working at and various other health and safety issues. It sound heavy going, but it was presented in a very open, friendly and relaxed way. A couple of things that stand out from the session (apart from the core information we were given), was that we were asked in our groups – tables of 10 or so-  to identify one thing that we all had in common – bar Rugby- and something unique about a member of the group. The one thing we all had in common was a love of curry and the unique thing? One member of my group had been a professional paintballer! Go figure.

I left, a happy man at 21:00 on Thursday night and headed straight for a curry house!

So it’s all very real now with just over 4 weeks left until England play Fiji on 18th September. My first shift in Gloucester is on the 15th and I can’t wait.

Speak to you all soon.

2015-08-14 07.45.53


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