Chris’ VIP role at World Cup

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From transporting royalty to rubbing shoulders with one of the greatest footballers of all-time, a local authority worker has had a memorable time as a Rugby World Cup volunteer.

Chris Wesley, 56, antisocial behaviour officer at Boston Borough Council and East Lindsey District, has been lending a hand at the international spectacle, which concludes next Saturday.

Chris, a lifelong rugby fan and former police officer of 38 years, with 19 on traffic duties, applied to be part of the drugs testing team for the Rugby World Cup, but his qualifications and experience were felt to better suit a VIP driving role.

His passengers so far have included Tongan rugby president and former London Welsh player Epi Taione and his wife Lupepau’u Tuita, a member of Tonga royalty.

Chris, who is from Long Sutton and is backing Wales in the tournament, took them to the King Power Stadium for the game at Leicester where Tonga lost 45-16 to Argentina.

Taione controversially changed his name to Paddy Power for the duration of the 2007 Rugby World Cup in a sponsorship deal agreed with the Irish bookmaker. The deal financed the Tongan preparation for the World Cup, where they would go on to nearly beat the eventual winner, South Africa, and lose narrowly to the other finalist, England.

In 2009, Taione portrayed All Black Jonah Lomu in the film Invictus.

While at the stadium, Chris shared room space with World Cup winner, Argentinian superstar Diego ‘Hand of God’ Maradona.

Chris would later transport Ross Aitken, coordinator for the Rugby Football Union, to the Leicester ground for ‘Captains’ Day’ when the venue was inspected prior to Argentina meeting Namibia.

He said: “As a sports fan, it has been great to be a part of the Rugby World Cup - and a bonus to rub shoulders with the likes of Maradona, too.”

The search for volunteers for the Rugby World Cup was launched in February 2014.

After more than 20,000 applications and 10,000 interviews in every Rugby World Cup 2015 host city, 6,000 volunteers were chosen to be in ‘The Pack’.

Roles fall into the following categories: accreditation, anti-doping, catering, communications and marketing, logistics, press operations, spectator services, technology, ticketing, tournament guests and protocol programme, transport, and workforce operations.

More than 4,000 members of The Pack gathered Stadium MK in Milton Keynes on May 16 to kick off the Rugby World Cup 2015 volunteer training programme at the Workforce Kick-Off event.