11 September 2019
It’s not just the All Blacks who are playing in a rugby world cup this month.
New Zealand Army driver Corporal Robert Brocklehurst is in Japan with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) team to play in the International Defence Rugby Competition (IDRC), the military equivalent of the Rugby World Cup.
The NZDF team, known as the Defence Blacks, comprising servicemen from the Royal New Zealand Navy, New Zealand Army and Royal New Zealand Air Force, plus one civilian, will play in the competition against military teams from Australia, United Kingdom, Fiji, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Canada, Georgia, Japan and France.
Corporal Brocklehurst, 29, from Papakowhai, says he loved First XV rugby at Tawa College and a key reason for joining the Army was the opportunity to play sport.
“I joined on an impulse,” he said. “The recruit course was a shock, because I’ve always been a ‘do what I want’ personality, but I’m loving it.”
A recent high point was serving in Egypt, and he was selected for the Defence Blacks shortly after returning to New Zealand.
“I’m absolutely stoked to be picked,” he said. “This kind of opportunity only comes around every four years.”
He studied Japanese at Tawa College and says he has a “little bit” of the language, so will be ahead of most of his teammates.
Corporal Brocklehurst, who can play lock, flanker or No. 8, admitted to some nerves going into the competition.
“We are a physical side and we have the ability, but’s there’s always some nerves playing other international teams,” he said.
The Defence Blacks flew to Japan on Tuesday, and will play Australia Defence Force in the first round on Sunday.
This will be the third International Defence Rugby Competition, with the British Army winning in 2011 and the Fijian Army winning in 2015.