Exeter Chiefs fan Rachel Barnett enjoyed a weekend to remember in more ways than one, after snagging herself a trip to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 30 May, as well as seeing her side register their first season double against Northampton Saints.
Exeter’s 21-10 victory boosted their hopes of securing a place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals, with Barnett’s favourite player Henry Slade having a successful day from the tee kicking 11 points.
The 34-year-old, from Bovey Tracey in Devon, was also celebrating off the pitch after topping the table in the Chiefs Grab a Ticket competition.
In the inflatable dome outside the ground before the game, Rachel caught an astonishing 153 paper tickets in 30 seconds – 13 more than her nearest challenger. And she admits her success was due to some words of wisdom from her sister, who she was attending the game alongside her boyfriend and brother-in-law.
“It was my boyfriend who had found out about Grab a Ticket having looked on the website,” she said.
“He encouraged me to give it a go, and before I knew it I was in the inflatable dome.
“It was really good fun and it was thanks to my sister’s strategy that I managed to win the competition.
“I had a body-warmer on which I stuffed all the tickets inside, and my sister told me to stay low and scoop the tickets up off the floor. So I used my arms to block the tickets and then grabbed them. Credit has to go to my sister because otherwise I’d have just been in there grabbing the air!”
Grab a Ticket will have travelled to all 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs by the end of the season, with the winner at each ground receiving two tickets to next month's Twickenham showpiece.
Barnett first ignited her love of rugby when she found herself in New Zealand during the 2011 World Cup, and was present at Eden Park to see the All Blacks pull off a historic victory.
And despite her sister’s help in claiming the prize, the NHS physiotherapist is excited to take her rugby-mad boyfriend along to rugby HQ – especially with Exeter still in the hunt.
She said: “I’ll be taking my boyfriend instead as he’s a huge rugby fan. He’s a Bath boy so he supports them as well as following the Exeter Chiefs.
“He really wants to go for his birthday, so even though it was thanks to my sister’s strategy I’m going to take him with me.
“It would be fantastic to see Exeter there in the final, and after last weekend’s game we’ve got a great chance.
“Seeing them play Bath Rugby would be a dream final, although maybe my boyfriend would be torn about who he’d want to win.
“The atmosphere at Exeter was amazing at the weekend. It was a sell-out game and everybody really got behind the team. I think Exeter being there would make the atmosphere even better at the final.
“Getting to go is a bit of a dream as we hadn’t sorted tickets and really wanted to be there. It will be my first time at the final and we’re very excited.”
The Grab a Ticket challenge will be at Northampton Saints v Saracens on 25 April and Wasps v Leicester Tigers on 9 May.
Each club winner who catches the most tickets in 30 seconds will win a pair of top category tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final 2015 and the chance to participate in a Champion of Champions Grab a Ticket challenge. The ultimate winner will get the exclusive opportunity to walk the trophy pitch side in front of 82,000 fans prior to kick-off.
Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final are selling faster than this time last year so with just three rounds to go, now's the time to click here to book your place at the world's biggest club rugby final