As rain-soaked Welsh fans flooded out of Waikato Stadium on Sunday night, four Wintec journalism students were busy fighting their way through a media scrum.
The four were responsible for getting and feeding player quotes to international media for all the games played at Waikato stadium.
Working as flash-quote reporters for the Rugby News Service, Annie French, Ethan Donnell, Hamish Forsman and Nicola Stewart had “all access” passes to the three Rugby World Cup matches played in Hamilton.
Alongside international media, they collected quotes and press conference highlights that were picked up by media outlets worldwide. And tape recorders were banned – because of the noise and deadline pressures it was a condition of their employment that they use shorthand at all times.
Bachelor of Media Arts student Annie French says the “once in a lifetime” experience was also a huge challenge.
“It’s something that I will never forget. There were definitely moments where I didn’t think I could do it, but it always came through at the end.”
As an avid All Blacks supporter, French says covering the New Zealand-Japan game was a major highlight.
“Watching the All Blacks play live for the first time and being a part of that atmosphere was incredible. And then to have a chance to go behind the scenes afterwards and get up close to the players was a real privilege.”
The All Blacks game was also top of classmate Nicola Stewart’s list of big moments.
“Seeing the All Blacks perform the haka, and Waikato Stadium packed with supporters made me realise what a massive event I was involved in. I also got to shake John Kirwan’s hand which made my night.”
It wasn’t all fun and games though and Stewart says nerves played a big part on match day.
“As soon as the final whistle blew we were in the tunnel waiting for the post match interviews. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my life. There was quite a bit of pressure because there was media all over the world waiting to use our quotes. The adrenaline was definitely going.”
While the whistle has blown on Hamilton’s Rugby World Cup experience, Stewart says the group are still buzzing.
“We learnt a lot, we got to watch some rugby, meet some players and work with experienced journalists. Now we are just looking forward to watching the All Blacks bring home the win.”