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‘I was a fan’: Dietrich Roache gives boots away to young supporter in Madrid

By Finn Morton
Dietrich Roache lines up a shot at goal at SVNS Series Grand Final in Madrid. Picture: World Rugby/Mike Lee.

Six years ago, Dietrich Roache was just like any other rugby fan. After playing league for a bit as a teenager, Roache fell “in love” with rugby sevens after attending the 2018 World Series event at the Sydney Football Stadium in Australia.

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Roache, who spoke with this writer before the SVNS season, worked intensely for two years as the Sydneysider chased his rugby sevens dream with both purpose and passion.

Now, after representing Australia in more than 155 matches and scoring at least 750 points, Roache has well and truly become a regular on the international rugby sevens circuit.

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Sporting black headgear, and showcasing a playmaking ability that’s nothing short of lethal on the back of the Aussie’s lightning-quick feet, Roache has become a mainstay of coach John Manenti’s team.

At the final regular season event in Singapore last month, Roache showcased his attacking flair before sending former Wallabies captain Michael Hooper for his first SVNS Series try. Hooper praised his teammate’s skillset after walking off the field that night.

As one of the more exciting players in the Australian squad, it’s no surprise that many young supporters look up to Roache as a rugby hero. For the Australian, that presents an opportunity to give back at every tournament around the world.

Before walking down the tunnel at Madrid’s Civitas Metropolitano on Sunday, teammate Matt Gonzalez told a young fan that Roache would sign his shoes. The supporter yelled out to the Aussie less than a minute later, and what happened next was special.

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Roache called on the young fan to come down to meet him by the barrier separating fans from the playing field. The Aussie supporter was shocked, and while it’s unclear exactly what happened next, it was still a nice moment.

Instead of heading up to the changerooms, Roache turned around and walked back towards the field. The 22-year-old turned left and disappeared from this writer’s view, but returned a few minutes later without his boots.

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“We go to beautiful places all around the world so I try and give my boots to a very encouraging Aussie fan,” Roache told RugbyPass exclusively in Madrid.

“I walk around the stadium, and if I see a kid, I try and give those boots away. Just sort of giving back.

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“Coming from a fan as well, only six years ago I was a fan of this sport.

“For athletes to share what they have, some kids don’t have much so it’s just good to share.”

When you consider how much Roache loved the sport as a fanatic himself, it’s quite a special moment. Australia’s seventh-place finish wasn’t what the kids cared about, they just wanted to meet their heroes.

Many of the Australian team signed autographs and took photos for at least five minutes after their team huddle, if not longer. It was a nice way to sign off an otherwise “frustrating” few days in the Spanish capital.

Earlier on Sunday afternoon, Roache converted three tries in Australia’s 21-nil shutout win over Great Britain. It was a good way to finish ahead of the Paris Olympics next month.

“That word ‘frustrating.’ It started in day one, we didn’t turn up in that France game and we put a lot of unneeded pressure on ourselves,” Roache explained.

“We fought back towards the end, a couple of close games didn’t go our way but at the end of the day we finish with a win so that’s some sort of momentum going into the Olympics.”

New Zealand’s Shiray Kaka and Tone Ng Shiu have shown similar acts of generosity this season, but all three – Roache included – didn’t make a big deal of it until it was mentioned.

Kaka, who suffered a knee injury in Singapore and missed the Grand Final, gave away her gold medal after the Black Ferns Sevens won the iconic event in Hong Kong China earlier this season.

Then, the following month at Singapore’s National Stadium, Ng Shiu had his teammates sign a jersey each for two young fans before running back in a bid to find them.

What a way to inspire the next generation.

Catch all of the SVNS Madrid action for free on RugbyPass TV. To watch the Grand Final, register HERE.

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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