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Kevin Aldridge #1Team1Nation RWC 2015 Quarter-Final Trip Diary

Kevin Aldridge, Pastor at Bryanston Bible Church (BBC) in Johannesburg, won an all-expenses paid trip for three to London for the Rugby World Cup Quarter Final, through Shield and Vaseline’s #1Team1Nation campaign.

Kevin, along with his identical twin brother, Andrew Aldridge and best friend of 15 years, Burton Meyer painted the town green, spreading the Springbok gees wherever they went. He shares their experience below:

Wednesday 14 October 2015 arrived far quicker than expected. With great anticipation and also some lingering disbelief that this was actually happening, Burton and I caught the Gautrain to OR Tambo International Airport.

When Andrew, and our chaperone from Unilever, Jane Fenner, arrived from Cape Town and Durban respectively, we had some cold ones and ‘cheersed’ to what was to be an epic adventure.

It wasn’t long until Andrew, Burton and I kicked into full Bok-support mode and as we were boarding our SAA flight to London we dropped a beat and started singing the national anthem. To our surprise, other fans joined in passionately – it was a thing of beauty.

We arrived in London met by our driver Simon, a big, burly and friendly Englishman. After grabbing a cup of coffee some more spontaneous singing and chanting ensued, which was met with some bemused looks from a few tight-lipped locals who had no idea how to respond to such joy and energy at 7am in the morning.

After delivering our baggage to the stunning 4 star Melia Whitehouse Hotel in Regents Park, we immediately began exploring London on foot. We ended up in London’s West End, visiting Piccadilly Circus. That evening we met some local Saffers at a pub called The Globe. The Guinness was good but the chicken pie was even better! Friday morning after a 6 course breakfast for my brother Andrew (that simply means he returned several times to the buffet breakfast table) we headed out for some more exploration – leaving our green-blooded, Springbok-hearted SA gees everywhere we went. The London Eye, Westminster Abby, Big Ben, Churchill War Rooms will all never be the same again!

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That night we returned to The Globe to make sure the Guinness and chicken pie was really as good as we concluded the previous night. Suffice to say we were right the first time around. The cherry on the cake was receiving not one, but two free rounds of pints! The first was from two Englishmen who insisted on buying us a round not because they really liked us, but rather as a result of them having had one too many pints already – we gladly obliged. The second was from a good school mate living in London, who also paid for our dinner. Relative to what we had in our wallets and given the exchange rate, he was the equivalent of Sir Alan Sugar!  It was a good evening on all fronts.

Saturday morning we woke up with butterflies in our stomachs. It was D-day, the Boks are playing in the quarter finals of the RWC 2015 and the Dragons from Wales will attempt to make history and dictate their fate. As I pulled the World Cup Springbok supporters jersey over my head I thought of how nervous the players must be feeling as they contemplated the immense task at hand. Our group, dubbed the “Super Sub Front Row (SSFR),” gathered at breakfast with steely eyes and pumping hearts.

When we arrived at the fan park near Twickenham, the atmosphere was thick with nervous anticipation, excitement, passion and resolve. As the saying goes; “the world is a small place” and we bumped into some old friends and made new ones and we were all equally ready to lay it all on the line for our Nation – in our support of course. Off to Twickers… our voices already thoroughly warmed up and raring to hit our stride at full voice as we sang our national anthem. We had decent seats but not quite near enough to be certain that our presence would not go unnoticed by our boys on the field. None-the-less we sang, cheered, shouted and chanted for 80 minutes non-stop.  The game was tense, very tense, and as the enormous Welsh contingent continued to sing “Bread from Heaven” and chant “Wales, Wales, Wales,” we countered with; “Bokke, Bokke, Bokke,” “Shosholoza” and “Here we go Bokke, here we go!” At the end of the game we collectively breathed an enormous sigh of relief as Wayne Barnes blew the final whistle and the Springboks had secured their place in the Semi’s.

It genuinely felt like we were faithful in our support of the Boks and we could celebrate their victory with immense pride.

Sticking around after the game – long after the better part of 79 000 people had left the stadium – we got to shake general Fourie’s hand in congratulations and we got some signatures and interactions from the bruised warriors in green.

The singing and chanting continued along streets, on busses and in the underground as a sea of green made their way to their temporary homes in London.

Sunday morning we regathered, in our Bok jerseys of course, to make our way back to Twickenham for the next quarter final bout between Australia and Scotland. What a wonderful atmosphere as we became Scottish supporters awaiting the onslaught of our southern hemisphere counterparts, the Aussies. It was an incredible contest and extremely enjoyable but you would’ve thought we were Scotsmen as the disappointment of the loss set in after the game, to the point that we joined the “Anti Craig Joubert Supporters Club,” albeit that he is a fellow South African. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the well-known London restaurant chain called Wagamama, after which we retired to bed.

Monday morning we squeezed in one more round of tourist exploration by walking down the Thames River and over Tower Bridge past the Tower of London and back to the hotel, before making our way back to sunny South Africa.

I’d like to thank Unilever and their brands, Vaseline & Shield, for this amazing experience. Apart from the fact that it was a once in a lifetime experience, we were also blown away by all the additional perks – Visas that were paid for, spending money, transfers (great vehicle with great service), the accommodation, the memorabilia etc. We literally felt like VIP’s and it’s humbling to know how much effort and money was spent in making this all possible and making it a unforgettable trip.

 On behalf of Burton and Andrew I’d like to thank Ryan for his exceptional service, incredible attitude and wonderful helpfulness throughout the entire process and then also Jane who has just about become a good friend. Jane your accommodating, caring and fun attitude made the trip all the more enjoyable. It was a pleasure being chaperoned by you and you represented your employees exceptionally well.

 All in all it was truly a wonderful experience that I cherish and will do for many years to come.

Kevin won this coveted prize by simply purchasing a limited edition Shield and Vaseline Rugby World Cup promotional pack and entering the on-pack competition. This #1Team1Nation campaign, initiated by South Africa’s Number 1 Selling Deodorant & Skin Care brands, Shield and Vaseline, was a drive to get the nation behind The Springboks for the Rugby World Cup 2015 and to solidify our national pride.

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