Simon Borchardt

John Allan's Rugby Tales: Paragliding prevents Sharks' pain

Former Sharks, Scotland and Springbok hooker JOHN ALLAN recalls the day he paraglided into a Sharks training session in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Natal played Otago in a Super 10 match in Invercargill, which is New Zealand's southernmost city and one of the coldest places to play rugby.

After the game, we had drinks and snacks. There were beers, which we understood, but the snacks were oysters, which took us by surprise. Invercargill is famous for its oysters, so we climbed into them because we thought it would help our sex drive!

Now, we had lost to the Highlanders after the Kiwi referee had failed to award us a try late in the game, so Mac (coach Ian McIntosh) was highly pissed off. We had a bye the next weekend, so we'd organised to have some R 'n R in Queenstown, which is renowned for its adventure sports.

Mac, though, said we would train on the Monday, to get the Highlanders loss out of our system, and he would then decide if we could have some downtime.

The training field at one of the local rugby clubs in Queenstown is at the bottom of a big mountain. I told Teich (captain Gary Teichmann) and Dickie (Dick Muir) that we were in for a four-hour opf*k session with Mac unless I could lighten the mood. I said I was going to do this by paragliding off the mountain and landing on the training field.

They agreed this was a good idea, so I took the cable car up the mountain and told the instructor, who was going to paraglide with me, that we had to land on the training field at exactly 9am.

I had been late for a couple of previous training sessions and Mac warned he would send me home if it happened again.

So we jumped off the mountain and as we were soaring through the air, I could see the guys standing in a circle around Mac.

I was later told that Mac had asked them where I was, and the guys had said I wasn't there. Mac lost the plot, saying, 'That's it! I'm sending Allan home, I'm tired of him being late!'

By now, the guys could see me coming closer and closer, and they started laughing, which made Mac even angrier!

Just after he threw his cap on the ground, which he did when he lost the plot, I landed in the middle of the circle!

'Sorry I'm late Mac,' I said. 'I just wanted to get the blood pumping ahead of this training session.'

Mac looked at me, looked up at the mountain and looked at me again. He then burst out laughing and said 'Where the f**k did you come from?'

We then had a two-hour training session, so my paragliding saved the boys two hours of pain!


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