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Cobham to Auckland

Latest NZ blog from Gavin Hart (July)...

Gavin Hart continues his blog about life for a Cobham boy playing rugby down under...

July 2007

Hi Guys!

Only a few weeks to go until the end of the season and that 27 hour plane journey home. Well with a little stop off in the South Island, looking for Frodo and his ring. The time has flown past and before I know it I'll be back in that cold miserable place you all call home, trying to find a job and wondering why I hadn't stayed in New Zealand. Ok I'll say it, I'm missing you all and that's why I'm coming home. That will last all of two weeks! I also can't have Cobham winning another league season without me and Spencer giving me grief about it.

Ok what has happened in the last couple of weeks? I've moved address for about the 4th time since arriving, into a very pleasant house in a lovely suburb of Auckland, New Market. Gone are the Islanders to be replaced by two weed smoking white boys. Don't worry Mum I know what your thinking and I'll set your mind at ease and let you know I'm only passive smoking. With three guys around the house is surprisingly clean? We're only in week one we'll see how long that lasts!

Last week we lost only our second game of the season to the second placed team, Ponsonby knocking ourselves off the top spot. The game finished 11-8 with us having at least 70% possession and missing four kicks at goal. Gavin has since stepped forward for kicking duties and is for once being taken seriously!!! Why do people think that because your a forward you can't kick??? This weekend we played Pakuranga (not sure if that is the correct spelling) and won 11-0 on a pitch that looked more like a world war one battle ground, it was so muddy. Brought back found memories of home! I'm still trying to pick dirt out of my finger nails, ears and other body parts.

Last night we all went to watch The All Blacks play the Aussies at Eden park on a miserable night in Auckland. This was one game I wished I had paid that little bit extra to have a covered set. The flood lights went on and the heavens opened. Myself and hundreds of others huddled together like penguins trying to keep warm. We got soaked! Underwear, shoes, socks, the lot! That put an end to our night out on the town. Right guys I'll Catch you all next time.


une 2007 - Half Way There!

Hey Guys!

I can't believe I've been in New Zealand for over three months, the time has flown past with out me realizing. Wow the last few weeks have had more ups and downs than a roller coaster! For anyone that spends a great length of time away from home will find that homesickness hits at about the three month mark. You start to miss your mum's cooking, friends, and nights in with the girlfriend (missing my baby Rachel), but you never miss England. Home is where the heart is as they say. Does everyone want to move over?

Forget that dull, wet and miserable place and come and join me! Where else can you ski and surf in the same day??...or as the kiwi's would put it, catch a snapper (that's a fish for you uneducated people), go deer hunting, oh and my favourite, catch a wild pig.......complete with hunting knife and your trusty bare hands. I've been told that people have sustained awful injuries and in some cases death. Death????

I apologize for the lack of emails over the past few weeks but it started with me injuring my back while getting off the sofa. Please don't ask! I'm trying to figure that one out myself! Months of hard contact playing rugby and Gavin's major injury is sustained getting up off the sofa? How? Maybe it was that unseasonable amount of alcohol consumed the night before? Anyway I missed two weeks of training and one game. Since then I've been hitting the gym hard and my body weight has gone up and my fat percentage is on the way down. Hope Rachel likes it!

This week we played against Marist, our banana team in the first round and won 26 to 13 in conditions best suited to England. Escaped with only minor injuries this week but I still seem to have a target painted all over me saying 'white European please high tackle me'. Oh and last week one player loved me so much that he tried to bite my thumb off for a souvenir. I haven't realized that cannibalism had become legal? I'll need to check that one. For all you stats boys back home get your rule books out and let me know before next weeks game. Let's just say there were no shaking of the hands after that one!

Right Guys I'll leave it there. Hope your keeping safe and well! And remember don't drink and drive!...That was aimed at Spencer by the way!


23rd April 07.
Week Five

Just moved out of my second house into hopefully my permanent address while I'm here. Gone are the beautiful views across the Auckland more eating breakfast on the balcony soaking up the sun....looking down on the poor middle classes from my house on the hill. Oh well I guess it couldn't last forever.

Gavin Hart in NZ

My new residence is about a 20 minutes drive from downtown Auckland in a place called Hillsborugh which is like going from Beckham's house and moving into Brixton. Oh well at least I'm not paying for rent.

My new Flatties are two couples. Couple number one Si and Mel (Mel's the guy and Si's the lady) and couple number two Nadine and Tevita. Except for a Nads and me we are a very island family! Tevita plays rugby league and is on the books for the Warriors and Mel is a Wannabee body builder. If anything kicks off I'm definitely not getting in the way of these two! They've made me feel very welcome and I've already got into the islander way of things by wearing a Lavalava which is sort of a wrap around bed sheet and which is standard dress around the house and nipping out to the shops for some milk. I will have photos for all in a day or two and you can have a laugh at the guy wearing the dress.

Last weekend we played Waitakarie and I got my first start at number 8 against a very large team (apparently the Islanders eat large amounts of a potato like food which contains a natural steroid...I'm now cramming my face full of them!!) where the number 10 could have played in the front row. As per usual the 'white' boys come off second around the contact area but with a little brain power we realise that someone has been hitting KFC too hard and we can just run round them. The game ends 13 to 7 to us but not without a few injuries and their full back getting a 12 week ban for kicking one of our guys in the head like a soccer ball. Sorry I meant football...

Until next time Guys. Hope you're enjoying the summer weather over there because you know it won't last!

9th April 07.
Weeks Three & Four

I've been rushing around job hunting and last week had a job interview at Les Mills gym, which is the premiere gym in New Zealand bringing to an end my days as a tourist sleeping in till late, long sunny days and getting away with wearing flip flops 24/7.

Gavin Hart's view in NZ

Les Mills is the type of place where you have to have a six pack to get in through the door, and I don't mean beer. They have over 10,000 members so you can guess the size of the place, and they have 3 studios each can house up to 300 people taking part in a class. I have the pictures to prove it!!! All the major athletes come here to train and get tested.

My second shift was opening up the gym at 5.00am, getting myself up at 4.30. The gym opened at 5.30 with ONLY 50 people waiting outside!!! By 6 it was packed!! Classes start at 6.30!! 2,000 people working out at the same time!! The river club, back in England opens at 6.30 with only 4 people In the gym till 8 and here I am with 2,000 Kiwis and I'm not talking about maybe a gentle cycle, absolutely going for it. THESE PEOPLE ARE MAD!!!!!!

Anyway back to rugby as that's what I'm here for. I got the nod to start against Marist, who were last year's league champions, starting at blind side. We turned up to 25 degree heat and came up against a very large Marist side packed with Islanders and one local complete with full on ginger hair. We kicked off in a game which turned into the most physical game I've ever played in, with fists being thrown on the odd occasion. We went down two early tries from a back line that could have played in the front but sadly with gas to burn. We pulled the game back in the second half but after 15 minutes being camped on their line, we lost by 2 points leaving the game at 15 points to 17. I fell asleep on the sofa that night with bruises all over my body.

Well that brings my week to a close. If you want to see all my photos I have logged in at and I'm gradually loading on all my pictures of my travels in NZ. My page is open to everyone to see so get logged on and then put in a search for my name.

Gavin Hart in NZ

30th March 07.
Week Two

They warned me that the weather was changeable here but I think we've had it all this week. The week started with our game against Takapuna on Saturday running out into 25 degree heat and losing a little over half my body weight in sweat in under 30 minutes, 2ft of water falling in the space of 36 hours. I woke up to find a new river had formed outside my bedroom window flowing down the middle of what was once our road.

Saturday's game was still a trial game so we played two halves against a mainly, unexpected, white team who weren't up to the physicality of Grammer (Rugby Club). I think we ran in about five tries against a weak defence, in what was a very scrappy game. I started the game playing on the flank but it wasn't long before the number 8 shirt came beckoning and I played the majority of the game at the back of the scrum. Maybe I'm destined to play the rest of my days there???

Sunday saw me travelling up to the North shore with Vince (ex Cob) to try my hand at farming and to meet another ex Cob Pricey. I found myself herding cattle, on my day off, and watching the six month calves be de-horned and tagged. If I knew this was what we'd be doing I wouldn't have worn my brand new white trainers, which ended up covered in blood from a cow with blood spurting from it's ears. Good day out but not for the fainthearted.

Wednesday my friend Eugene took me over to the west coast of NZ to visit his brother in a place called Piha. Piha is paradise for anyone who enjoys beautiful views and even better surf!!! Piha is a place in the middle of nowhere surrounded by steep mountains covered in thick jungle like trees. Eugene's brother owns a place looking out over the beach, where he can wake up every morning and check out the surf from his bedroom window....what a life!!!

A retired lawyer who now travels the world taking part in Over 50's surf comps. He took me out surfing in the bay lending me one of his many boards. My thinking was come on grandad lets see what you've got!!!.......I got my arse kicked and was sent home packing to the words 'don't worry we all have our off days'.

Have fun and good luck to the first team for this Saturday.

Gavin Hart

Sat 24th March 07. Week One

Hello from sunny Auckland!!! The weather here is a cool 21 degrees, bright and sunny with a slight westerly breeze. Just looking out from my newly aquired accommodation, looking out over the harbour and down town Auckland.

Hopefully this is my first of many weekly reports from the city of sails. Each week i will be uploading you my photos of my adventures through the beautiful countryside of NZ, dicovering new species for scientific research both on and off the rugby field.

My week started with my sad departure from Cobham rugby ground after posting another 50 points and promoting ourselves to divison 3. With only a few tears shead I was boarding the plane bound for NZ. After bearing the awful food, no leg and elbow room (due to being sat next to two islanders both over 100kgs), and watching the sun rise and set god knows how many times, my 27 hour flight came to an end. TO BE MEET BY NO ONE! Someone got their wires crossed and told the other crowd the wrong time...thank you Tony!

I was eventually meet by one of Grammer Carltons board members, Eugene, who took me for a wirlwind tour of Auckland. A bit too much to take in seeing as I'd only managed 3 hours sleep in the last 27.

My new temporary accomodation isn't too bad, just your normal run of the mill house overlooking the habour. Walk in wardrobe.....flat screen....touch screen built into the wall (controls the tv, choice of radio stations and alarm clock). The guy next door is the third richest man in NZ, but hey I'm hoping the conversion rate from pounds to dollars will put me somewhere in the top 10?

Eugene is my newly aquired friend who see it as his duty to take me to every museum in NZ within 24 hours of arriving. I arrive in style to the rugby ground on tuesday decked out in my personal top of the range BMW with my aide driving. I know Prince Andrew is in the country, and I'm beginning to think they picked up the wrong guy at the airport.

Training is a wake up call when some islander takes it as his duty to say hello to the new guy. It was a bruising but friendly encounter. The guys are friendly and I'm soon introducing myself round forgetting names as I go. There are too many long names around here. Out of the club I would say only 15% are what I'd say white european and the rest are made up by islanders and maori.

Wednesday sees me climbing up the Auckland sky tower and checking out the casino. Of course Eugene isn't allowing me to pay for anything so I eventually find his his weakness, the Latte. I buy him a latte where ever we go and it makes me feel a little bit better.

Thursday is a lazy day for me soaking up a bit of sun before training. I find out I've been picked for the senior ones against Taranaqi.

Well thats it for this week I'll be back next week with more news from NZ. If you want to get in touch with me my email is:

Good luck this weekend guys!