Saints alive! St Hugh’s pupil’s meet All Blacks legend Richie

Richie McCaw signs the ball for St Hugh's pupil Freddie Would
Richie McCaw signs the ball for St Hugh's pupil Freddie Would

The Rugby Union team from St Hugh’s School in Woodhall Spa are unlikely to forget their visit to RAF Coningsby in a hurry.

They came face-to-face with one of the world’s greatest ever players - record breaking 
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw.

And it proved to be a particularly memorable encounter for one St Hugh’s pupil, Freddie Would.

He had his All Blacks shirt specially signed by McCaw.

Freddie, 12, said: “It was a huge privilege to meet Richie, it was very kind of him to come and meet us. He is a huge idol for us to look up to.”

McCaw visited Coningsby just days after winning his 100th cap as captain in New Zealand’s convincing win against Wales in Cardiff.

While at Coningsby, he took to the skies with RAF Rugby 7s player Flight Lieutenant Steve Mills in an RAF Puma 2.

Flt Lt Mills, an RAF pilot and captain of the Puma 2, showed the most-capped All Blacks captain the capabilities of the newest support helicopter in the RAF fleet.

The Puma 2 is capable of carrying the entire All Blacks team - or up to 16 fully equipped troops.

McCaw, who is also a qualified pilot, is honorary Squadron Leader with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

His late grandfather Jim was no stranger to working with the RAF, having flown numerous missions during the Second World War and being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic actions.

McCaw’s visit saw him open the Strengthening Suite in the station gym.

Another highlight for the formidable flanker was the opportunity to fly in a Typhoon as part of a routine training sortie.

He also enjoyed a tour of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and learned more about his grandfather’s colleagues in the RAF.

He then took the opportunity to meet current and future RAF personnel.

The station rugby team, accompanied by several local school teams, were given the chance to take part in a ‘once in a lifetime’ question and answer session.