Record NZ$31,300 Paid for New Zealand All Blacks’ Jersey at Charity Event for Young Women in Indonesia

A New Zealand All Blacks’ jersey signed by the 2016 All Blacks’ Squad has sold for Rp300 million (US$21,200; NZ$31,300) at a charity auction in Jakarta, with the proceeds earmarked for the development of the sport among young women in Indonesia. The figure is believed to be a world record for an All Blacks’ jersey at a charity event.

Former All Blacks’ half-back Byron Kelleher was present at the auction and expressed his sincere gratitude to all assembled knowing just what it means seeing such generosity and as to what it means to those like him who have worn the famous jersey.

Audience members at the auction organised as part of the annual Priscilla Hall Memorial Foundation (PHMF) Golf Invitational Day, a charity for needy children, were left “stunned” when a bidding war broke out between two expatriate businessmen.

The successful bidder was Kevin Jose, who is the head of Aedas (an international architectural design firm) in Singapore and also an Aedas Board member in London. Kevin in his humbleness said that he was most happy to help the young ladies from the Komodos’ Women’s Rugby Team and that he had bought the framed jersey as a gift for his daughter’s 16th birthday.

“Bidding started at Rp 5 million [US$370], which climbed immediately to Rp50 million, then Rp 100 million, then Rp 150 million and just kept on going,” said Jess Djamhoer, chairwoman of the Jakarta Komodos Junior Rugby Club. “The crowd were blown away when the final figure hit Rp300 million. It was an emotional moment for everybody there.”

Proceeds of the auction of the All Blacks’ jersey, donated by PT AIG Insurance Indonesia, will go toward the Komodos’ team of young women from the Mama Sayang Orphanage, including a planned trip to the Bangkok International Rugby Tens in February, 2017.

During the auction Jess stood on the stage with John Paul Jones, the head of AIG, Stephen Barber, Indonesian Rugby Life Member, and three young ladies, Ester, Angel and Lina, from the Jakarta Komodos Women’s Rugby Team. Together on the stage they all shared their tears of joy and smiles of thanks as the auction price grew and grew to its ultimate height. The feeling of elation was incredible among the group on the stage and this overflowed into the room.

The Jakarta Komodos Rugby Club places a strong emphasis on junior rugby development, with a number of age-group teams, plus development sides comprising boys and girls from Mama Sayang, as well as local children living near the club’s training grounds in Kranggan. The club regularly sponsors disadvantaged children to attend international rugby tournaments.

“We are sending teams to Singapore for a tournament starting tomorrow, including five Kranggan players,” said Jess. “A month ago these kids didn’t have passports. Tonight they are flying abroad for an international rugby tournament to compete against the best in Southeast Asia. It’s impossible to put into words how much of a positive impact this will have on their lives. This is why we love rugby.”

Jess said the Jakarta Komodos Rugby Club were passionate about rugby and about developing the game in Indonesia. “We have great sponsors, such as AIG, DHL, Danone, PHMF, Britcham, ACH Management, MacMahon and Britmindo, but events such as the charity auction really showcase how individuals can rally around a great cause and contribute.”

Aaron Meadows, coach of the Mama Sayang side, said the Komodos and the team were “both grateful and humbled” by the funding. “We have done our best with a shoestring budget over the past few years, but this much-needed assistance will allow us to give our players more opportunity and the chance to compete in Bangkok next year.”

He said that despite their circumstances, the Mama Sayang team had embraced the game of rugby.

“Having taken over from founding coach, Stephen Barber, this season, I have been fortunate to have the chance to work with a new crop of young female players who now will be better equipped to a for a spot in touring and national teams thanks to this amazing act of generosity,” Aaron said.“I can’t say thank you enough for the difference this will make in the lives of some very special young people.”

Barber, a key founder of rugby in Indonesia and in recent times Women’s Rugby, said rugby was more than just 80 minutes of on-field action. “The Komodos and all rugby players in Indonesia want to acknowledge the efforts of everybody behind the scenes who donate time, energy and money to the growth of the sport in Indonesia and around the world,” he said. “We are not only aiming to develop rugby among children in Indonesia, but also developing children through rugby.”