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Historic Rugby Jersey Auction on TradeMe

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For immediate release

HISTORIC RUGBY JERSEY AUCTION ON TRADEME

1 July - A British & Irish Lions jersey signed by former England captain Martin Johnson and All Black rugby legend Jonah Lomu goes up for auction today on TradeMe (http://www.trademe.co.nz/Sports/Sports-memorabilia/Rugby/Jerseys/auction-30387317.htm).

Potential buyers have the next week to secure this unique piece of rugby memorabilia which was signed by both players leading up to the Lomu vs Johnson match at Twickenham on June 4.

The jersey has been donated by Jonah (a Special Olympics Ambassador) and is being auctioned by Special Olympics New Zealand to raise money to send athletes to its National Games in Christchurch later this year. The auction closes at 12 noon on Friday July 8.

Jonah Lomu became a Special Ambassador for Special Olympics in July last year, joining Special Olympics Ambassadors Beatrice Faumuina, Jayne Kiely, Melissa Moon, Dick Quax, Mark Sorenson and Nigel Avery in spreading the word about Special Olympics as it aims to double participation rates by 2010.

Jonah said he had Special Olympics in mind when he asked Martin Johnson to sign the jersey in the UK last month.

“The jersey symbolises the end of an era in one sense with Martin’s retirement, and the beginning of another with my desire to return to top rugby,” said Jonah.

“Combined with the historic series between the All Blacks and the Lions now in progress, it’s a special piece of rugby history.”

Special Olympics New Zealand chief executive Angus McLeod said Jonah’s participation had been inspirational for both the organisation and the athletes who compete at Special Olympics events.

”We know this jersey will be of interest to rugby collectors worldwide,” he said. “Bidders should also take pride in knowing that the proceeds from the auction are going to such a good cause.”

ENDS


About Special Olympics

Special Olympics New Zealand (SONZ) is a registered charitable organisation that has operated throughout New Zealand since 1983. It is dedicated to providing sports training and competition for children and adults with an intellectual disability. SONZ emphasises participation for individuals at all levels of ability, achieving personal best performances, and regular coaching, training and competition for all athletes. Just under 3200 athletes currently participate on a regular basis. SONZ is supported by SKYCITY (our principal sponsor since 1996), SPARC, Provender and ING (NZ) Ltd.

Special Olympics was founded in the US in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. There are more than 150 accredited national programmes world wide. The flagship events for the movement are the international Special Olympics World Games, which are held every two years alternating between summer and winter games. The last summer games were held in Dublin, Ireland, in June 2003. New Zealand athletes brought home 60 medals, including 20 gold. The most recent international event in which New Zealand competed was the World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, in February 2005. Six athletes brought home 11 medals, including 4 gold.

The largest Special Olympics event ever held in New Zealand, the SONZ National and Asia-Pacific Games, will be held in Christchurch in November/December 2005. Some 2000 athletes are expected at these games, including a number from overseas.

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