Paint it (all) black...

I'm sorry. But one Rolling Stones inspired blogging effort last week could never suffice.

I know it's more than a little tenuous. Malappropriate, even. Who cares!

'Paint it Black' of course reflects themes of bleakness, death and depression. By contrast, our All Black moments this week have joyfully celebrated the vibrancy, positivity and hope of youth... And what it takes to succeed.

On Tuesday, our first All Black legend, Zinzan Brooke, was an inspirational guest of honour at a wonderful, annual ex-Year 11 Prize Giving Awards Evening...

Zinzan Brooke
Zinzan Brooke laughing

Indeed, if you Google  ‘the greatest rugby players of all time’, Zinzan’s name regularly appears at the very top of the lists that come up.

This is what one - compiled for the Daily Telegraph in 2008 by former England Captain Will Carling - had to say about him:

‘A No 8 who could drop a goal from the 10-metre line. For a forward his skills were outrageous. He had better kicking and handling skills than some fly-halves playing international rugby. You align that with his strength and ability as a forward to read the game - he was unique.’

That was very generous of Will as Zinny is perhaps most famous for doing this to his England side in the semi-final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa...

Following my own speech to the students, focused on how brilliantly they had applied the lessons from the All Blacks' approach to success that I had shared with them in my final pre-GCSE assembly, two points from Zinny's message stood out for me.

Firstly, that 'that' kick was a fantastic example of seizing an opportunity when presented to you; using decisively skills you've learned and religiously practised when it really matters.

And secondly, never forget the love and support of your parents in helping you get there! I particularly loved his description of his mum's pre-match phone calls, exhorting him to look after his six foot six brother Robin against the 'nasty' Springboks...

Prize Giving with Zinzan Brooke
Prize Giving with Zinzan Brooke

And then on Wednesday, we we treated to another wonderful evening with Zinny, this time together with his equally legendary team mate and captain, Sean Fitzpatrick as we hosted a fundraiser for our partner charity, OK Our Kids...

Rugby Legends Evening Promo
Rugby Legends Evening

In a convivial, conversational style format, full of repartee and good humour, you nonetheless got an startling direct insight into the All Black preparation and approach that had inspired my assembly and prize giving speech - which has also been the theme of another recent blog...


And all the more powerful to hear it from the players who had put it into practice on the field...

You know when you are in the presence of giants...

Derek Peaple with Zinzan Brooke
Rugby Legends Evening