Andrena Patterson at work live streaming and commentating Wellington College’s games and inset, with Hurricane Ngani Laumape and with friend and Harbour Hawks Highlander Patelesio Tomkinson.
- By Adam Julian
When Radio Sport made the decision to cut local rugby broadcasting this year there was genuine concern about how much coverage the game would receive. Add the mayhem of Covid-19 to the equation and there was a very real possibility the airwaves could be barren in 2020 with the total absence of commercial support.
Te Upoko O Te Ika, Huddy Sports, Pick up the Pace and multiple club streams later there has never been so many places to watch or listen to games as they happen. People power ruled.
Of all the live streaming options available, few can match the commitment, passion, and entertainment value of Wellington College Rugby Club commentator Andrena Patterson whose been commentating age group fixtures to a growing social media audience.
A mother of two, her oldest son Henry is a Year 9 wing and fullback in the Wellington College Under-15 gold team. She not only commentates the games but films them off her battered iPhone 5 while moving down the sideline to capture the pictures. Additionally, she conducts pre-and post-match interviews.
On Friday night at Evans Bay Artificial while calling Wellington College versus St Patrick’s College Town she described a Wellington try directly behind the Town reserves while catching her breath and defying 100km gusts of wind to keep up with “Solomon.”
“I’m 52 years old and have no fear,” Patterson asserted.
“I’m doing this because of Covid. I thought let’s use technology to create a social experience. Wellington College rugby is going through a bit of a flat patch at the moment, but let’s try to get parents involved, Let’s practice interviewing the boys. It’s all useful when they’re in the First XV or the All Blacks. Let’s get a happening thing. I just want to build upon or add to the culture,” she continued.
Further investigation of motives reveals a greater personal reason for capturing social moments. In 2013 Patterson was diagnosed with breast cancer and endured “a year of hell.”
“When I was sick and didn’t know I was going to survive I decided to take as much video footage of my kids playing sport as I could. Fortunately, I got through that, but its special to have moments to look back on,” she said.
Patterson calls a game with genuine authority. Born and raised in Port Chalmers she was involved for many years with the Harbour Hawks in Dunedin and played for Southland. She once coached sprinting to Black Fern Melodie Robinson and her favourite All Blacks are Ben Smith and Damian McKenzie.
“When I looked at other livestreams, I noticed there was no commentary which despite the quality of viewing makes it harder to watch. There is no context if you join late, just wind and muffled nose,” she observed.
“I always talk to the referee before the game and butter-up the touch judges. I haven’t fallen over anyone yet, but it’s been close to happening.”
Her commentary style is modeled off Bernadine Oliver-Kerby and Rikki Swannell.
“Bernadine is a highly intelligent reporter and Rikki being a lead caller on Super Rugby is amazing. I really admire both.”
“I do lament Radio Sport finishing up, but one thing they did lack was more women callers. I think they needed to encourage more involvement from women. Women bring a different perspective, a valuable perspective. It’s not necessarily right or better but it didn’t really exist on Radio Sport,” she expanded.
A Wests junior, Henry Patterson moved to Ories to contest the under-13 grade in 2019. Henry wanted a greater challenge and broader experience which Andrea says Ories delivered in abundance.
“The families, the Polynesian culture. Ories was awesome. There is a great vibe at that club.”
The qualified lawyer runs her own business as a specialist independent workplace investigator, put more simply someone who “sorts things out.”
When crowds are allowed back to rugby Patterson says her commentary will end, but the demand for it may not vanish. Keith Quinn (1960-64) is Wellington College’s most famous old boy commentator and still takes an interest in his former schools’ fortunes.
“It’s an honourable thing Andrena is doing. It’s not easy talking almost non-stop for 80 minutes let alone operate a camera. I hope and am sure the boys are appreciating her excellent work.”