Lads on Tour; Senior Rugby Tour 2016

Adam Gaffney
First XV scrum vs. Epping Boys school.

On Friday, March 11th, 2016, forty-seven senior students departed for the 2016 Senior Rugby Tour to New Zealand and Australia. The boys escaped the last days of winter in Vancouver and arrived in Auckland with the sun shining. The boys had five stops on the tour, in New Zealand the boys were at a training camp in Greater the Hamilton area and with billets in the town of Matamata. In Australia, the boys stopped in Brisbane, Surfers Paradise and Sydney.

The first stop on the Tour for the lads was at the Hopuhopu training facility for three days of training camp. The boys worked on team structure and set pieces as well as practicing individual skills. In the evenings there was film sessions and team meetings. During the training camp, a few coaches from the Chiefs development program came to give the boys a training session. The Chiefs are a professional Rugby Union team that represents the Waikato province of New Zealand in Super Rugby. The boys got the chance to get a few tips from some international coaches. On the last day of the training camp, the boys got to scrimmage a small local school Ngaruawahia High School. The lads were successful and got a solid win under their belt.

For the next stop on the tour the boys had a two night stay in Matamata with billets. Before arriving at Matamata College the boys got to stop in Hamilton and visit the Chiefs headquarters and training facility. The boys got to see the gym and see the team records for the heaviest bench press, back squat, etc. The next morning, the boys arrived at Matamata College and got a nice surprise from the coaches. The coaches were able to arrange a tour of Hobbiton for the team. Hobbiton is where Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were filmed. In the afternoon, it was game time versus Matamata College. The 2nd XV had a tough battle, but came out on top with a 17-12 victory. The 1st XV played a hard fought game and experienced some quality kiwi rugby being played against them. The first’s took a tough 35-29 loss. There was an enjoyable post match reception for the boys after the game.

After six days in New Zealand, the boys headed back up to Auckland for a short flight over to Brisbane. In Brisbane, the boys had a two night stay with billets from St. Laurence College. On the second day in Brisbane, the boys got to visit the Australia Zoo. The Australia Zoo was home to the famous crocodile hunter Steve Irwin. The boys got to see some koala bears, kangaroos, crocodiles, dingos, tortoises and bilbies plus many more. Later in the afternoon, the boys got to roam around the public market on the Brisbane River. In the evening, the boys attended a Super Rugby match between the Queensland Reds and Auckland Blues. Super Rugby is the best rugby union league in the whole world. Being at the game was a great first hand experience for the boys. The final day in Brisbane was game day. The boys were playing St. Laurence College during the heat of the day. The second XV had a tough game and lost. The first XV had a great 1st half and were up 14-0. In the second half, the sun was getting the best of the Saints boys as they were not used to playing in this type of weather. It was 35 Celsius with the sun beaming straight down. St. Laurence College’s 1st XV rallied back and eventually won in a nail biting finish 17-14. After the game, the boys were off to Surfers Paradise.

In Surfers Paradise, the team had the opportunity to take some surfing lessons. Surfers Paradise is a world famous surfing community on Australia’s Gold Coast area. The beaches are beautiful and the sand is soft. Many international tourists flood the town every year. The boys got to have lots of down time and this was time for the boys to bond.  Also after more than a week of straight rugby it was a good time to have a quick break from the game.

The boys’ last stop on the tour was in Sydney, a three-night stay with billets from Epping Boys School. In Sydney, the boys got to go to both Bondi and Manly beaches, both, of which are world famous beaches. In Manly, the boys saw some professional rugby players from the Highlanders (Otago, New Zealand) hanging around the village. The boys were stunned when they spotted standout world player and All Black, Malakai Fekitoa. Also in Sydney, the boys went to watch the New South Wales Waratahs rugby team train. The Waratahs are another Super Rugby club that represent the New South Wales province of Australia. Jack Scher, (11) had this to say about watching them train, “they do all the same drills as we do, but they just do it perfectly!” In the game versus Epping Boys School both the second and first XV played great games and got the W’s.

It was a successful conclusion to the tour. The boys ended on a positive note and came back to Vancouver with smiles on their faces knowing they had an excellent adventure and improved greatly in their rugby skills.