Chris has VIP role at World Cup

Chris Wesley with his official Rugby World Cup VIP transport.
Chris Wesley with his official Rugby World Cup VIP transport.
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From transporting royalty to rubbing shoulders with one of the greatest footballers of all-time, a Long Sutton man has had a memorable time as a Rugby World Cup volunteer.

Chris Wesley (56) has been lending a hand at the international spectacle, which concludes next Saturday.

Chris, a lifelong rugby fan and antisocial behaviour officer at Boston Borough Council and East Lindsey District, 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, a former police officer of 38 years, with 19 on traffic duties, took the Tongan couple 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.”