This news story will be kept up-to-date throughout the Tour with our progress and results. Be sure to keep checking back!
26th to 28th July
The welcome in this city is always warm even if the temperature drops to minus 5 at night! Last time we were here in 2005 we had driving rain, cloudy skies and bone-chilling winds but not this time! The frosts soon lift and the sky is the clearest blue you have ever seen.
The boys have had some great billets here and some of the houses they have stayed in can only be described as amazing. The whole of this capital city is carefully laid out and the 350,000 inhabitants have access to a vast array of facilities. One of these was the focus of our first group visit on Wednesday. The Australian Institute of Sport was an insight into how the Australians have significantly increased the number of Olympic medals the have won. Costing £200 million a year to run the investment in huge but getting results.
First the boys were given a tour of the AIS to see the facilities but also the athletes training there. There are photographs that show some of these venues. Afterwards there was an opportunity to go to the interactive sport zone where there were a vast number of activities to test your physical abilities and try out a number of sports. When our time was up some of the boys (and staff) had to be prised off the equipment!
A trip to the very modern shopping centre for lunch was followed by the visit to the famous war memorial and museum here. Many millions of dollars have been spent in developing the educational aspect of this centre and it was well received by the boys who valued the experience.
The coach returned us to the Marist College in time for the end of school and the boys were then able to return to their billets for a good nights sleep before our return to Sydney and our last games against William Clark School. Staff returned to their hotel on the outskirts of the city and are hoping not to be ambushed by kangaroos tonight as they were last night when returning from their evening meal, Mr McDarby has been practising his boxing skills in case!
This news story will be kept up-to-date throughout the Tour with our progress and results. Be sure to keep checking back!
Against Marist College, Canberra
Marist College is a school of some 1200 boys and always produces the strongest of team. We were concerned but not surprised to hear they had just returned unbeaten from a tour of NZ. The 1st XV lost 18 to 40 but the 2nd XV played particularly well winning 25 -12!
Arrived safe in humid Singapore. The peninsula hotel is very smart and the boys are as impressed as they were with Singapore airline. They have had a short training session and are now getting ready to go out to eat in this stunning city.
Singapore Airlines flight exceeded expectations with excellent service and comfort. On arrival the we were soon through customs and immigration and on to the coach where we met by our guide, Agnes. She was to prove very helpful and although she frequently apologised for her 'Singlish' she was very easy to understand and caused huge amusement when she used phrases like 'we don't allow and Tom, Dick and Harry in this Hotel'. The Peninsula Hotel was very impressive with two swimming pools, gym and saunas.
The party was taken on a tour of the city and view the F1 street circuit, the amazing array of skyscrapers and some of the Victorian quay-side restaurants and bars. The boys were especially impressed with the trip to China Town and Little India where they visited the Buddhist and Hindu temples and started spending their dollars in the extensive markets.
Some of the city's building are very impressive as you may have seen in the photo section. Everything you have heard is true about Singapore - the humidity, the cleanliness, the rules and most importantly the food! The group leaders are given money to take their group out to eat and in some cases $100 of the $150 provided was returned as they found amazingly cheap deals. They all enjoyed the variety of local cuisines.
When Agnes met us at the airport and said that the match venue had changed and that she wasn't sure who we were playing we should have realised something was afoot! It appears that St Andrews had lost the previous week to London Oratory quite heavily and the London school had informed our intended opponents that we were much stronger. St Andrew then decided to side step the game and the Singaporean Academy stepped in to provide the opposition for both teams.
When we arrived at the Singapore Sports Academy everyone was impressed with the array of excellent facilities with a stadium, track basketball courts etc. The opposition staff introduced themselves to us and then it soon became clear that they were using the matches to select their team for the Asian Games U19 side! The matches were fierce but we triumphed in the 1st XV game and the 2nds were pleased with their own performance.
The next day we were sent on another coach trip but unfortunately this was a disappointment as we were taken on tours of the residential areas and government offices to look at show homes. Agnes read the writing on the wall! We were soon on our way back to the hotel to use the facilities before packing and preparing for our flight to Melbourne.
1st XV Match Report
The singapore national teams welcomed campion into their hostile and humid conditions within their stadium. Campion went into the game not knowing what to expect against a national under 20s side. Straight away, without hesitation, cameron gray tested out the ground conditions and displayed his disgust at the hardness the paddock.
The game kicked off and straight brad burr exploited a gap in the singapore defence after excellent decoy running from the centres. Brad successfully galloped away from the defence. Campion continued to up the tempo of the game. After a poor kick from the opposition fly half, Shaun Sookoo caught the ball and undeniably gassed the opposing winger and full back to score a comfortable second try.
The gap further widened when the forwards managed to catch and drive a well executed line out with an easy put down from the brains of team, Tom Ward. Score at the end of the first half, 15-0.
The second half kicked off in the same fashion as the first with campion piling on the pressure. After successfully blitzing of the campion defence, campion were awarded a scrum 20m from the oppositions line. This scum led to the captain, Luke Cassidy picking up and running over the Singapore defence to score the 4th try of the game.
The game continued and Shaun Sookoo in similar fashion to his first try, scored again this time running from the 10 metre line showing off his pace and leaving the Singapore defence in despair.
The game seemed the beyond the national sides reach until and dropped ball from Our winger leading to an unfortunate opposition runaway try. They seemed to gain momentum from this scoring one more try before the end of the game.
The heat and humidity proved too much for campion in the closing stages of the game. Final score 25 campion, 12 Singapore national team under 20s.
2nd XV Match Report
The first match on tour saw the Campion 2nds take on an elite selection of players from Singapore, a deviation from the planned match against St. Andrews. Campion were determined to begin tour with a win but it was not meant to be.
The 2nd team began the first half with a clear show of intent, a quick switch of play gave winger Michael Lewis space to work with which saw him race past the opposition defence for an early try. The early lead was soon cut down as the Campion boys struggled in the conditions. Tackles were missed, passes were dropped and Campion trailed before the half time whistle.
The Campion side came out after the break with a new found desire to win back the game. The team pin pointed weaknesses in the opposition defence and exploited them with explosive runs from the backs. Some well executed phases paid off as fly half Matthew Birtles pushed his way across the line. Despite the heroic efforts of the 2nds in the opening and closing parts of the match, the weakness of the side in the middle of the match allowed the Singapore team to go home with the spoils.
Final Score: Campion 2nd XV - 14 - 22 - Singapore U18
After the super efficient experience of Singapore Airport it was somewhat of a shock to arrive at Melbourne Airport especially after the boys had spent the whole of the overnight flight playing interactive games and watching videos on the planes amazing entertainment consoles! Never have you seen so many queues or stressed officials as this. They had us queuing for queues! They are very meticulous about inadvertent import of diseases and foodstuffs and so, as predicted, the boys had their boots carefully inspected as well as the rest of the contents of their luggage.
When we finally found our coach we met the ‘legend’ coach driver of Shane who had had so many experiences he wanted to relay to us it seemed he had lived at least two lifetimes already. He took us on a morning tour of Melbourne and despite his efforts many of us fell asleep only waking for stops at the amazing stadium, the MCG, and Nando’s for lunch. What was clear was that Melbourne was sport obsessed and there were so many sports stadia centrally located whether for Rugby Union, League, Aussie Rules, Tennis, swimming etc.
We then travelled to St Kevin’s school to train and eventually for the boys to meet their billets. The fee paying catholic college has over 1700 students and is an immense institution on several sights. Although it has limited grounds for Rugby and AFL they have their own boathouse for their 25 rowing teams on the river Yarra that flows through their site. The pitches and training areas were surprisingly wet, as they had had some of the worst winter conditions for years.
After showering the boys were obviously quite nervous about going off with their billets for the next few nights but these fears were quickly dispelled when they realised the generosity of their hosts and also the size of the houses they were staying in! Most got to their billets handed over their dirty washing and fell asleep.
The next day the boys met at the schools pavilion to prepare for the two games against St Kevin’s and the Victoria state side. Match reports are included separately. After the presentations and formalities the boys left with their billets but with instructions to meet staff at the Melbourne Zoo.
Unfortunately we were unaware that there were two entrances and of course we ended up with the bulk of the boys at one and the staff at the other with the tickets. In an attempt to find where the staff were one of the boys used his initiative (always dangerous) and phoned the staff contact number. Unfortunately he inadvertently phoned our Headmasters mobile number in the UK at 4.00 am on the first day of his retirement! Ouch!
The Zoo was a great success and it was clear to see why the Melbourne Zoo has an international reputation. The boys were then left to return to their billets in the afternoon although many of them linked up again in the evening as the attended the Rugby League match or joined the staff at the Aussie rules clash at the Etihad stadium.
The next day the tour party reconvened at the school to depart on the internal flight from Melbourne to Sydney. Kevin Culver who is Master in charge of Rugby at St Kevin's but also Chairman of the Victorian State team expressed his sincere admiration of the boys and how well they had represented themselves, Campion and Parents – a pattern that is clearly emerging from this tour!
As some of you will be aware we were disappointed that our next proposed hosts at Wagga Wagga had dropped out from playing and hosting us. We were now transferring to Sydney and had some tentative plans to play a game here but unfortunately all such ideas were dashed when Sydney had the most rainfall in 48hrs for over 70 years prior to our arrival with all but two professional games cancelled.
Campion 2nd XV vs St. Kevin's College Melbourne 1st XV
The 2nd team touched down in Australia looking to record their first victory on tour. A hard fought draw did not do the side justice in the end as the Campion 2nds dominated open play
In an almost mirror image of the first game, the 2nds started with a promising dart down the wing, this time by powerful winger Joe Arnone. The side camped out on the opposition try line for a few minutes before being controversially turned over and the ball was sent back towards half way. Having played much of the game in the St. Kevin's half, a storming run from 2nd row Alex Coltman saw the 2nd team go up 7 - 0.
In a similarly strange repeat of the events of the first match, the Campion side had their lead overcome and the St. Kevin's 1st XV led 12 - 7. The lead would have been made unbeatable if not for an inspiring defensive display by flanker Fraser Waddams. Late in the second half, a patient build up by the Campion 2nd team and a well executed set piece move saw Will Brentnall batter his way through the Australian defence and score on the right flank. The resulting draw was painful to take for Campion who dominated the opposition in every facet of play excluding penalty count.
Final Score: Campion 2nd XV - 12 - 12 - St. Kevin's College 1st XV
On arrival at the Central YHA we were pleasantly surprised to find a modern and quite plush hostel with swimming pool, sauna and restaurants. No sooner than we had arrived but we were changed and on our way to central station next door to the hostel to catch a train to the Olympic Park. Our destination was the ANZ stadium and the Tri Nations game, Australia (recently humiliated by losing to Samoa) against South Africa. The whole event was impressive from the Olympic park, the stadium the ferocity of the game, the size of the burgers. Australia comfortably beat SA and the atmosphere was electric.
The next day the boys had the bulk of the day to organise their own sightseeing. After the staff spent some time outlining placing to visit and things to do plus how to get there etc. most spent most of the time either catching up on sleep, washing clothes, swimming in the pool or working out at a nearby gym.
At 6.00 pm though all found their way to the very impressive St Mary’s Cathedral where they joined a congregation of nearly 1000 for Mass. We returned as a group to the Hostel where they enjoyed Chicken or Beef roast dinner.
The next morning they were up at 6.30 and went running in local area and after breakfast we walked them to a local park where they trained hard for an hour or so. After a quick shower and change they walked down to Darling Harbour and Kings wharf to get their lunch and then meet for our 2.00 pm harbour cruise. The very large vessel was almost solely ours for the next 2 hours as we saw the Harbour Bridge, circular Quay, Opera House and all the famous sights. It has been an opportunity for staff and boys to catch up with family, friends and past pupils now living in Sydney and we are looking forward to seeing more at the forth coming games at Canberra and on our return to Sydney.
Moreton Island, Brisbane
31st July to 1st August
The Island lies a few miles off the coast of Queensland and is the third largest sand island on Earth. It has few residents and is the site of the Tangalooma resort where will spend the next two days. 95% of the island is protected National Park and the surrounding waters are also protected. The only problem is that we have been up since 3.00 for our flight from Sydney and there is a whole day of activities planned!
No sooner had we arrived than we were loaded into two 4WD coaches and driven off into the amazing hinterland of the island. Terrain was very rugged as there are no proper roads and varied from thick forest to desert. We were soon travelling across extensive sand areas and came to a huge range of mountainous dunes where we were unloaded and presented with plywood surfboards. We were about to be introduced to the sport of sand tobogganing!
After a long climb up the face of the steep slope we were shown how to position ourselves and then launched down the slope on the waxed board. Inevitably distance covered became the competition inevitably won by the staff. Thighs started to burn on the return climb but everyone was keen to repeat and repeat this new experience (that is until you forgot to keep lifting the leading edge and received a huge face full of sand!).
Later that afternoon we were given a lecture about Dolphin conservation and then invited back for the nightly Wild Dolphin feeding. While waiting they could not resist a game of beach rugby and entertained the onlookers with a fiercely contested but extravagant bare foot game.
There around 600 Dolphins in Moreton Bay but a family group of around 8 have got in to the habit of coming into the resort near the floodlit jetty where they once used to feed on the fish attracted there. However this has now been replaced by visitors taking it in turn to feed the dolphins fish by wading into the shallow waters and holding the dead fish provided out to the Dolphin that then takes it carefully from your hand. This, the boys found quite a privileged experience.
The evening saw everyone getting and early night after a great buffet evening meal and watching the staff beat the boys on the pool table 8-0!
The next morning there was some free time and the boys decided they wanted to get their revenge on the staff by way of a beach volleyball competition. You have guessed it – 8 games to 0 – to the staff.
At midday we set out on the catamaran for a 3 hr whale watching cruise and lunch. Initially we thought that this was going to be a nice little cruise around the bay and probably an outside chance of a whale sighting in the distance. We were wrong.
Firstly we set off at speed towards the tip of the island and there we encountered a large swell that sent the boat like rollercoaster. Next the Captain shouts 3 o’clock through the PA system and we look off the right hand side of the boat to see 2 spouts of exhaled whale breath! In the next 1 ½ hours we see some 30 humped backed whales rising to the surface, diving, tail flapping and looking after their calves. They use this route to migrate to the warmer tropical waters for breeding later this year.
In 1965 tourists used to come to watch the barbaric act of slaughter of these whales and the resort we are staying at used to see 600 whales brought on shore for rendering every year. It was good to see their numbers recovering.
After returning from the trip we had just an hour to collect all our luggage before travelling back on the 75 minute ferry crossing and 1 ½ hour coach transfer to Surfers Paradise.