Charity jerseys worn by Thames Valley Heartland rugby team raised almost $20,000 for Goldfields School, in Paeroa, in a post-match auction.
Worn during their game against Horowhenua-Kapiti in the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship, the jerseys donned the handprints of students from the school.
Team manager Lucas McIver said the idea came to him when he was looking through the New Zealand Rugby rule book and came across the section on charity jerseys.
It was their second year fundraising for Goldfields school, but the first year with the charity jerseys.
McIver said the intention was to sell some of the jerseys in a post-match auction and the others online. However, the auction was going so well they decided to sell all 22 game jerseys – raising $19340.
Prior to the auction, McIver thought the jerseys would go for about $300 or $400.
Instead, the first jersey to be auctioned, number 6, made the least – $400, whilst number 9 went for $4000
McIver said a couple of other jerseys went for more than $1000, but most went for between $500 and $850.
He said making the jerseys was a simple process. They got the students of Goldfields School to each print their hand onto an A4 piece of paper, which was then scanned into the software to make the jerseys.
Thames Valley Heartland coach Matt Bartleet said the amount raised had exceeded any expectations.
He said he had to put a reminder out to the team to feel proud of the effort, rather than as though they had missed out on securing one of the jerseys.
“Most of the team were blown away with the supporters.”
Last year the team raised about $6000 for the school through various team initiated ideas, Bartleet said.
The idea to support Goldfields came to Bartleet after he was hired into the coaching position as a way of rebuilding love and pride for representative rugby in the community.
He said he wanted to support a charity that everyone would be able to feel good about supporting, noting the “enormous capital costs” Goldfields have to do what they do.