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Tomas Zuokas Naujosios Zelandijos komandoje / 2012 lapkričio 26 /

Tomas Zuokas- buvęs "Vairo" regbio klubo ir Lietuvos nacionalinės regbio rinktinės žaidėjas jau daugiau kaip 10 metų gyvena ir dirba JAV. Gyvendamas intensyvų amerikietišką gyvenimą, Tomas suranda laiko sportui ir sėkmingai rungtyniauja viename iš Vašingtono regbio klubų. Neseniai vairietis buvo pakviestas į labai garbingą renginį- atstovauti ne bet kam, o Naujosios Zelandijos ambasadorių komandai.

Tradicinės Naujosios Zelandijos ambasados organizuojamos rungtynės vyksta kasmet. Jose susitinka JAV gyvenančių zelandiečių ir amerikos klubų rinktinės. Pastarasis renginys vyko Amerikos širdyje Vašingtone. Naujosios Zelandijos atstovai įrodė savo vertę, o gausiai susirinkusiems žiūrovams ir savo kilmę, laimėdami rungtynes 41:18. Tomas Zuokas jau ne pirmus metus atstovavo kivių šaliai. Kaip jis ten papuolė , belieka spėlioti , tačiau malonu ir keista matyti lietuvį vilkintį "All Black" aprangą iš šokantį tradicinę zelandiečių Haką.
N.Z. ambasadorių rinktinėje yra rungtyniavęs dar vienas vairietis -Linas Naujalis. Vizitas į gimtąjį kraštą sutrukdė Linui prisijungti prie šių metų NZ komandos ir dalyvauti rungtynėse.

Nuotraukoje Tomas Zuokas pirmas iš kairės

Rungtynių aprašymą anglų kalba galite paskaityti žemiau

The feature match of the day pitted the New Zealand Ambassador's XV vs. the US Combined Services. Both teams were lead onto the pitch in front of their flag bearers in front of approximately 1,500 fans. Following conclusion of each countries anthem, the NZ side performed their traditional Haka.

Perhaps it was the timing of the event on Veterans Day weekend or playing on the parade grounds of Ft. McNair in front of the homes of some of the highest ranking military officers in our Nations Capitol, but judging by the steely looks of fierce determination on the faces of the military side, they readily and gladly accepted the challenge.

The first half proved to be a barn burner as both teams played rugby bouncing from one end of the field to the other. The Combined Services' No. 10, Rob Holder, used the wind at his back and precision kicking to regularly get his team out of a hole and gain field position. Also outstanding in their backs was fullback Andy Locke. Despite having just returned from duty in Afghanistan, Locke brought energy and pace into the backline. Shoring up the Combined Services forward pack was Air Force Academy Instructor and former Eagle, Brian Lemay. Lemay led from the front and was always in the thick of the action.

The New Zealand side had standouts of their own with fullback, Morgan Findlay from Lindenwood University (St Louis, MO). Findlay showed his ability both in attack and defense with an exceptional day as he inserted himself into multiple attacks and provided excellent cover defense. The Combined Services side had the momentum and the lead for almost the entire first half until the NZ side struck with a game changer at the whistle to take the lead 22-18.

As the second half progressed, the Ambassadors forwards began to utilize their size and experience and wear down the US military side. Ambassador's XV prop, Royal Orbel, playing in his 10th Shield match deserves special recognition for his hard-nosed play and leadership of the forward pack. Also to be recognized is No. 6 Owen Lentz, who was a constant disruption at every breakdown and showed why he was once a member of the USA Eagles.

At the final whistle, the score stood at 41-18 in favor of the NZ Ambassador's XV. Combined Services Coach, Rob Holder was effusive in his praise of both teams. "I am really proud of our effort and the heart and determination we showed. The NZ side was excellent at slowing our ball down and quickly recycling their own possession...that proved to be the difference."

Following the match, a reception was held at the New Zealand Embassy for both teams, as well as the supporters of the event and Pride. In an evening filled with New Zealand food, speeches and rugby camaraderie, the event's title sponsor, Lockheed Martin, awarded a $10,000 check to support the Pride Rugby program at Perry Street Prep. Following acceptance of the check, Pride Rugby Alumni, Alex Pettiford gave a moving speech about his time spent in New Zealand and the effect rugby has had on his life. It was a fitting conclusion to remind us of the impact of the rugby community beyond the game itself.

 

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