29 Jun 2017

Palmerston North packs down to break world scrum record

7:04 pm on 29 June 2017

The difficulties of herding cats are well documented, but how about herding teenagers?

Or, more precisely - how about herding more than a thousand teenagers into four rows of 400-odd people?

Those unenviable logistics were what Karen Heaphy from the Palmerston North District Council had to co-ordinate today, as more than 1700 people packed down on the rugby fields at Palmerston North Boys' High School to crouch, touch, pause, and break the world record for the biggest scrum in history.

Earlier this month in Rotorua more than 7000 people performed a mass haka in an attempt to make the record books.

Ms Heaphy said the scrum idea was inspired by the British and Irish Lions' trip Down Under.

"The city council formed a committee to hold a winter festival during the Lions' rugby games against the All Blacks, and they thought it'd be really cool to do something different. So there it was born."

The effort saw children from local schools joined by soldiers, teachers, locals and even 30 or so Lions fans who made the trip up especially to take part.

The existing Guinness World Record of 1565 people is held by the Japanese town of Fukuroi.

However, contenders from Ireland have beaten that total - though their effort has not yet been recognised by Guinness.

That meant Palmerston North's effort had to top 1739 people in order to take out top spot.

By 1.30pm, just under 1700 people had turned up. But within 10 minutes - and with a little help from a booming megaphone - stragglers were recruited from the staff room, and off the street.

In the end, 1758 people packed down, facing one another in two rows of two lines apiece, and engaged for abut five seconds - smashing the existing record, and likely thwarting the Irish attempt.

Ms Heaphy said the experience was challenging, but enjoyable

"[The schoolkids] were really patient - considering they hadn't been fed, and boys like their food."

The organisers of the attempt will now have to submit video evidence and documentation to Guinness in order for it to be officially recognised.

But a spokesperson said they were extremely confident they had the record in the bag.