An early departure on Friday morning set us underway for our Rugby Tour, to the beautiful and rugby-mad city of Bristol. 43 boys, 7 staff and our fanatic staff bus driver Andrew enjoyed a good passage through London, the M4 and beyond. After a planned stop at Beefeater near Swindon to feed the hungry tour party, we arrived at our first stop, the beautiful and wonderfully welcoming Clifton College. Their playing fields are just past Brunel’s famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. We kicked off our first fixture at 2.30pm, surrounded by magnificent football, rugby and hockey fields. The boys took full responsibility for their own warm up, organised the teams tactics, sorted playing positions, setting the tone for the next few days – independent thinking, self organisation and camaraderie.
Clifton College teams were well prepared, despite being in the middle of their hockey term. They played with passion, determination and a great brand of free-flowing rugby, which I’m delighted to say was well matched by the Prep boys. At half time, Clifton were certainly winning the battle, but our boys cleverly watched from the side, identified their threats and the half-time team talk was as it should be, pupil led. It is fair to say the Prep won the second half battle and the boys played Prep rugby with great heart and conviction. Match tea was warmly welcomed on a cold afternoon in their fantastic sports pavilion and we left Clifton College with an invitation to return next year, such was the impact the boys had as wonderful ambassadors for our great school.
The Holiday Inn followed and after some collaboration from the boys over rooms, Mr O’ Brien and Mr Mackewn passed out the door keys. After a quick shower and change, we left for our evening activity and meal. Airhop, the country’s largest trampoline park welcomed us with open arms and what better place to take a large group of very excited boys. Mr Roulston and Mr Mackewn joined in briefly but it is fair to say that the assault course is not designed for adults! Dinner followed, split between Pizza Express and Frankie and Benny’s. Doughballs, pizza, pasta, burgers and fries were in abundance and the dinner time chat from the boys was well worth hearing. Once again, they proved themselves great ambassadors in a public setting. We returned to our hotel and it was lights out for 10pm. We welcomed Mr Stevens, Ms Galea and Mr Illman to the tour party, who drove to Bristol after the school day.
Saturday proved a wonderful day! After a hearty breakfast, we left the hotel for the stunning seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare, or Western Super Mud as it’s often referred to. 10am and the beach was all ours, so a game of touch rugby was organized. Soon followed some beach shenanigans and some amazing seaside beach art from the boys after which we all headed for the main attractions of any side town – sweet shops and arcades!
After a quick shower at the hotel, we embarked for Ashton Gate and the eagerly awaited rugby game, Bristol v Exeter. We were among 15,000 people in an amazing stadium and witnessed a great entertaining game of rugby, with a nail-biting finish. The boys even made it onto TV. Yet the warmth of the hotel came calling and we returned for pizza and movie night, a big hit amongst the boys, and staff!
Another lovely warm breakfast followed on Sunday morning and we left the hotel for the final time and headed west, to the brilliant and welcoming Old Bristolians’ Rugby Club. What a great club! We received a royal welcome and played over an hour of rugby, rotating our teams, in very windy conditions. Old Bs play totally mixed ability rugby at junior level, so we did likewise. We mixed our teams and squads up and everybody became an A team player on tour! Hot dogs and squash for match tea followed and we left Bristol with full bellies and love in our hearts. En route home, we awarded our tour prizes:
Best Tourist – Edward T & Raphael D-P
Most Improved – Alexander R & Sasha B
Tour Service and Humility Award – Will C
Tour Sacrifice Award – Chibuikem O-F
Tour Gent Award – Charlie V
Good Company Award – Hal E