Nearly a hundred rugby lovers from around the county flocked to Neyland Athletic Club recently as they attended a special rugby occasion with the Pembrokeshire All Blacks where former New Zealand star back rower Zinzan Brooke was the special guest at an evening which included an excellent buffet, provided by Scott Gregory and his staff at 'Caddie's Kitchen', as an added attraction.

Joining Brooke was former Llanelli and Wales scrum half Rupert Moon, who acted as master of ceremonies and clearly enjoyed his question and answer session with the New Zealand 'legend' who played 58 test matches and wore the famous All Black jersey over 100 times as he also featured in tour matches and special celebration games against the likes of The Barbarians.

Moon was a busy man as he also conducted some auctions, presided over a huge raffle and went amongst the audience so that they could also ask Brooke some questions, all of which the New Zealander  answered in his typically forthright fashion.

But the other star of the evening was local rugby referee Charlie Watts, who opened the evening as the curtains opened to reveal him in a mock-up of his front room, sitting comfortably on a leather chair and confiding in a delighted audience that he was looking forward to a quiet night on his own at home.

Then the front door bell rang and a reluctant Mr Watts answered the door to find Moon paying a ‘surprise’ visit, and although the bell failed to ring a second time our Charlie improvised well and discovered Zinzan waiting outside.

After a little banter between the trio Charlie announced that he would have to pop out and left Moon in his chair and Brooke stretched out on the settee, telling an intrigued audience all about his childhood in a family of five huge brothers and a sister, who somehow was never bullied in school!

His brother Robin played 69 times for New Zealand, on the wing, and was dubbed a 'ballerina' by their father, who had also been a powerhouse forward and couldn't understand one of his boys playing so far away from the action!

We also discovered that Zinzan learned the physical side of rugby whilst playing on the 35 acres of front lawn of their large farm, and that is where he perfected his drop goal technique which saw him land a 48 metre monster at Twickenham in a narrow win over England, and a simpler score in a 42-7 win over Wales in a match played at Wembley whilst our own stadium was being built.

Zinzan also revealed that his first cap came against Argentina as the youngest in the squad and as the only player of Maori descent was designated the role of leading The Haka.

"I was bricking it," he admitted, "but it went OK and I made a winning debut in a career which included only seven defeats, which was pretty good," he added with typical understatement!

He also mentioned how delighted he was to play on the old National Stadium, albeit in sevens, and felt so honoured that he actually kissed the hallowed turf afterwards.Zinzan named the likes of Brian Williams, John Hart, Sean Fitzpatrick, and especially Graham Henry as major influences on his play, with five seasons as captain of a hugely successful Auckland team as another highlight.

He also posed for as many photos as requested, plus signing loads of autographs and sports lovers of the calibre of Mike Griffiths, Gordon Thomas,  Rod Chamberlain, Russell and Mark James, John Laugharne, Richard Hayman and Paul Maggs all told us afterwards that it had been a night to remember!

The event was organised by Neyland RFC stalwarts Jason Morgan and Johnny Sutton and others in conjunction with Matthew Jones of ‘The Events Room’ and those in attendance were asking when the next 'Special Rugby Evening' would be held there!