I’ve written before about the voluntary work I’m involved with for this year’s Rugby World Cup but we’re now just 53 days away from the start of the tournament and my excitement levels have hit a crazy high.
On Friday I received my schedule and it is incredible. The only Twickenham game I’m not working is England v Australia but that’s ok because it gives me a weekend off to relax and watch the match with friends instead.
My first shift is in 51 days as I’m needed a couple of days before the tournament starts for an induction and to help with the set up ahead of the Opening Ceremony and first game and yes, I now have a countdown calendar to tick off each day.
I also spent the weekend in London as I had training at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday. I got to meet all the other volunteers doing the same role as me during tournament time (there are 3 of us at Twickenham and 2 at each of the other 12 venues) which was great as we could be excited together. Those friendships will mean so much post-tournament when our family and friends are bored of hearing about our experiences but we still need to share what happened and what we did and saw and were part of.
(with Fletcher in the England changing room)
The match services management talked us through a ‘typical’ match day and I write that only because there isn’t really such a thing as a typical day. The match services team are responsible for the successful delivery of the match, from assisting the teams when they come for familiarisation, the ground staff as they set up the field of play, the match officials if they need more milk for their cups of tea to ensuring everyone sticks to agreed timings in the hours running up to kick off. We have to manage the seamless, smooth delivery of the match so that the teams can focus only on getting their job done and the 4+ billion people around the world with their eyes and ears on us get the best experience they could have.
It’s a lot of pressure and a big challenge but it suits my skills and experience so well and I just can’t wait to be part of this incredible event.
During our training we did a walk through to see how the teams will arrive at the stadium, enter the changing room, line up in the tunnel and head out onto the pitch. The feeling of following in the footsteps of the most talented players our sport has seen was quite overwhelming. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the enormity and scale of what I’m going to be part of, for the sport which means so much to me. Coming to work during the tournament when the stadium is packed with 82,000 fans and the eyes of the world upon us will blow my mind and leave me with memories I’ll have forever. Look out for me on the tv – our volunteer uniform is bright blue jackets with neon green baseball caps!