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Colston's connection with the All Blacks
Tom Hamilton in Auckland
June 8, 2014
Then and now - Ben Smith © Getty Images/ Colstons

While Jonny May and Ben Smith did their collective best to get one over on each other in Saturday's Test match in Eden Park, they may not realise they have a little slice of their separate lives in common - the south west of England binds them both in differing ways.

For May it is home, he was born in Swindon and plays for Gloucester. For Smith, it provided an outlet in his gap year as he journeyed to Bristol and worked in Colston's, a school with a fine heritage of bringing through top-level players.

Fate did not steer Smith towards playing his club rugby in England, it was only ever going to be a year-spell, but it was an experience which helped mould the man he is now, an All Black.

He went there on the offer of Daryl Paterson, the man who coached him at King's High School in Dunedin. There he stayed in their school house and ran out for the Old Colstonians and played in the Gloucester 1 division during the 2005-06 campaign.

For Smith, he has nothing but fond memories of his time in England. "My first year out of school I went there and played for the OCs," Smith told ESPN. "I had a gap year over there and was pretty much a teacher's hand filling in on different classes, mainly PE ones. I enjoyed my time over there, the rugby's a little different - they enjoyed the social side of rugby and I enjoyed being over there."

And despite some tongue-in-cheek suggestions it was Colston's who made the All Black he is now, it was all part of his rugby education. "I still get a few text messages from the old OCs about how the English will smash us. They like to give it out and let me know they are behind England. It was a great opportunity to head over there and I enjoyed it, it was a year to get away from New Zealand and have a think about what I wanted to do and was a chance to explore."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

Tom Hamilton was brought up near the stands of the Recreation Ground and joined ESPN in 2011. He is now Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.
Follow him on Twitter @tomESPNscrum