South African Rugby Tour
The College is now just over half way through the South African rugby tour and they are clearly having an amazing time. Earlier this week they played under lights against the southern-most school in South Africa, Bredasdorp. The hospitality from the school was incredibly generous and the boys had a great time with their billets off the field. They also produced some scintillating offload play during a strong performance on the field securing a 14-0 victory.
When they arrived in South Africa, their first stop on tour was at a team building and outdoor activities centre called Konka camp nestled in the African countryside two hours West of Johannesburg. Here, the lads enjoyed luxurious 12 man double bunk beds in the ‘Nelson Mandela’ dorms and outdoor activities under the supervision of their hosts and guides Milo and Eddie. Highlights included a trip around the high ropes, kayaking, zip wires, a backs vs forwards African drumming competition and a gnarly, smelly obstacle course. They played a fixture against a local district side and, after facing their equivalent of the ‘haka’, came out 30-22 winners after some very spirited last ditch defence.
The group then travelled by bus to Pretoria and after a stop at the Voortrekker monument , they met their first hosts at Sutherland High School. The boys and the staff enjoyed some genuine South African hospitality and played a match against the school’s Ist XV. The boys also enjoyed a tour of Loftus Versfeld stadium and managed to persuade the tour guide to show them the gym, where they were thrilled to see Pierre Spies doing a workout.
Having watched an U17 team from Aylesbury School beat Sutherland U16s, the College team did very well indeed to push their U18 Ist XV so close with what was largely an U16 team. They went down 26-18 in a very pressured and physical encounter. Although the boys were devastated to lose, this was the type of fixture that they’ll never forget and will draw strength from as the season goes on. The next morning they went to the first lesson with their hosts to experience the South African education system first hand.
After a slick transfer they arrived in the coastal resort of Durban. This was the first hotel experience on the tour and they were very glad to reacquaint themselves with wi-fi, hot showers and ‘all you can eat buffets’. After a few days of much needed rest and relaxation at the beach they played their next fixture against Westville Boys High School. Last year Westville ranked 13th in South Africa and draw their teams from a pool of 300 boys per year; the boys faced a monstrously large pack which included the biggest 16 year old any of the staff had ever seen. They lost 50-10 as they struggled to live with the size and power of the opposition pack, but they did very well indeed to rally in the second half and post two excellent scores. The boys found it tough to lose, but they will know that they’re unlikely to ever play against a more physical side.
After a flight to Cape Town and another coach trip through jaw-dropping landscapes they arrived in the small town of Bredasdorp, the southernmost town in South Africa. For the last few nights the boys have enjoyed some wonderful hospitality with their host families. After two games in three days, the boys have enjoyed a well-deserved rest day in Stellenbosch.
Everyone is looking forward to the rest of the tour, with yet more great memories to be made.
Finally we are most grateful to our official tour sponsors Sanlam for their support.