South Africa Rugby Tour - July 2012
In July, the much anticipated rugby tour commenced for 43 boys now in Years 12 and 13, with South Africa as our destination. We first stayed at the Goedgedacht Trust, just outside Cape Town, which provides rural African children with shelter and guaranteed meals through the ‘Path out of Poverty’ programme. A coaching session was organised by our teams for the older boys, and we finished off the day with a mixed game of rugby. The children then travelled with us on our third day to the Swartland Festival, and the ‘B’ team played first against an U19 side from Brackenfell, before the A team played the hosts from Swartland High School. The matches were a real eye-opener to the high tempo and quality rugby that South Africans play and, unfortunately, both Pate’s sides faced heavy defeats, but we all enjoyed the experience of the packed grandstand on the touchline and the high standard of rugby.
After a drive through the fantastic South African scenery we arrived at the Aquila Game Reserve, an ideal place for recovery with huge buffet meals. During our stay we went on afternoon and early morning game drives on which we were lucky enough to see all of the ‘big five’ amongst many other amazing animals, before playing our next fixture against Porterville. The A team played first in the afternoon sun and played outstandingly, yet a strong start from Porterville meant they scraped through the last five minutes to secure victory, at 24-13. The Bs took to the pitch afterwards, taking an early lead but despite a great performance it was another loss.
We then headed for the coast, to a fishing village called Velddrif. Having spent the day in the sun playing with a strange spherical ball known by some of the boys as a football, we then went to the local school for an evening meal and enjoyed a local fish delicacy called snoek for dinner. The next day started with training on the beach and then back to the school for more rugby where the Bs played first and, after scoring an outstanding team try, unfortunately lost in a close game. This was followed by the A team match who were the first side to experience victory on the tour with a score of 27-0 against the Velddrif team. A highlight of our trip followed, with our journey up Table Mountain; at the summit we were greeted by breath-taking views of the city and bay below. We then finished our fixture list off against the Retreat Youth Club, a team from the Langa Township, an experience that really emphasised just how welcoming and friendly the South Africans are, and both sides secured strong wins, finishing on a high. After the game, our last journey in South Africa was to Robben Island, the former prison where Nelson Mandela was held captive. We were shown the cell where he spent his years and around the rest of the prison by a former political prisoner.
It is no understatement to say that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that all of us relished, and will be a trip that we will remember and talk about for many years to come.
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