This news story will be kept up-to-date throughout the Tour with our progress and results. Be sure to keep checking back!
Day 1 - Arrival
Landed safely and on time in Singapore.
After a worrying start at Heathrow with another Dreamliner battery bursting into flames and closing both runways we were glad to get onto the Singapore Airlines flight on time.
The flight went very smoothly probably due to the nervous anticipation of the of the boys and the superb flight staff. Most boys seem to have got some sleep but others have watched half a dozen films back to back.
When we arrived here we were through immigration control, luggage collection and off to the coach very quickly. It was only when we left the air conditioned building to get to the coach park that the first experience of the Singaporean climate hit the boys! The humidity is crazy!
Thirty minutes after check in at the amazing Amara Hotel and the boys gathered on a small patch of grass in the middle of the commercial centre for a fitness session. Immediately the session became a local tourist attraction and this was added to by a noisy military fly past for some local celebration. Some of the squad thought it was for them!
Back to the hotel they were soon in swimming pool and then getting ready to go out to the local hawkers market for dinner!
Singapore Day 2
If the opposition are hit as hard as the hotel's buffet breakfast then this will be a very successful tour! The boys have never seen such an array of foodstuffs in one place.
The downside was that soon after they had to leave the comfort of the hotel's air-conditioning to go to a local school for a training session. The humidity was 100% and the temperature approached 30 degrees. Luckily they have followed the advice of drinking large amounts of water whenever they get the chance. Training went well but not good enough and so they need to heed the warning for tomorrow's game, i.e.: if they do not give 100% then the Singapore Academy squads would reverse the result of two years ago.
After a return to the hotel and an unauthorised pool based line-out session (see photos for details!) the squad was soon showered and ready to get the coach to Sentosa island. After taking the cable car across, the boys went their own separate ways to one of the parks, such as Universal Studios, or off to the beach resorts before getting back together for a buffet evening meal. We haven?t seen the sun since we have been here but in this humidity that's an advantage.
We finally left the island by monorail and then we had options of how to get back to the hotel so the boys suggested a S¯Top Gear? challenge to find which form of public transport was fastest. Although the first few taxis arrive first at the hotel it had to be the time of the last team member back, and so the underground team won and at a cost of $1.50 to $7 for the taxi! An early night followed in preparation for the two games and with breakfast late at 9.30 the boys should be well rested.
Monday 16th July
The day started with a leisurely breakfast and then a staff-guided walking tour around the centre of Singapore. The first stop was the huge Buddhist temple and the streets of the extensive china town. Boys joined in with the tradition of lighting joss sticks and placing them in a dragon decorated cauldron of sand but this activity had to be ended prematurely when they were unable to insert theirs without sustaining burns to their forearms! The temple was an amazing sight and decorated with the many images of Buddha and with monks chanting.
The group moved on to the Hindu temple nearby, for this is truly a multicultural society, and then to the Mosque next door.
Finally we arrived at the famous Boat Quay where a line of old buildings now used for restaurants line the quay side where Raffles first landed in 1819 but are overshadowed by many towering skyscrapers of the commercial centre.
Soon back at the hotel the boys had to arrange for their lunch and then relax before the 4.30 departure to the Yio Chang stadium.
1st XV Game - Singapore
The second game started under floodlights (which were not very bright and explains the lack of decent photographs!). Immediately the pace was set when Campion scored an early try that mimicked the 2nds? performance. The opposition looked big and fast and they had worried the staff as we spied on their warm-up! However they were not prepared for the speed of our backs play and our forward play was powerful and coordinated. It was a pleasure to watch and with a couple of late tries the score reached 56 -5.
There were a number of old boys present to watch the game who are living and working in Singapore. Steve Brooks, James Bailey, Dave McEwan, Kevin Shallow and Peter Monkfield. The latter of 1973 1st XV vintage! Thanks for your support!
The coach journey home was a noisy celebration and included some wonderful vocal renditions by Messers Agyei, White, Sherman, Pettigrove and Naveda and then the joke of the night - did you hear about the scarecrow that won a nobel prize for outstanding work in his field! Groan!
After watching the 2nd XV come out victorious in their game, the boys involved in the 1st XV game were determined to repeat their feat, they were mentally prepared and this showed as a sharp and clinical warm up took place. The nerves were settling in as the flood lights brightened and the size of the crowd increased, but the team were not going to let this affect the debut performance they felt was needed to give this tour the deserved good start.
Shortly after kick off Campion opened the scoring, a solid base had been set by the forwards in the scrum on the opposition's 10 metre line allowing for smooth backs play resulting in a try under the posts by Owen Sherman. However, the quick start by Campion was potentially stopped after a questionable decision by the ref awarding the Singapore side a 5 pointer. A three month gruelling Mr McDarby fitness regime wasn?t going to hinder the side's potential debut win, despite the decision the side's effort and work rate did nothing but increase, this was shown as Alfie Hill clawed his way to the try line to get the touring side's second try. As the game progressed superior fitness and skill levels started to show as the home side decided to make many substitutions and all in all their game play began to slow down giving the gas men in the team a time to shine. Going in to the break, the tourists were opening up a formidable gap on the scoreboard but knew they had to cut out silly mistakes if they were to make the final result as emphatic as it had the potential to be.
After a stern talking to by the coaches the boys in white were eager to make an improvement to the first half and knew what they needed to do, as the set pieces became tighter and stronger Campion's points tally racked up. The foundations set by the forwards in both the lineout and scrum aided the backs tremendously in allowing them to play the expansive style of rugby they love to play. In addition to this, a great defensive display, notably from Greg Dordoy, meant that the home side didn?t cross the white line again. A lot of ball was stolen at the breakdown by the dog like forwards which is becoming a familiar trait for the Campion side, all of this plus a desire to not let each other down was more than enough to see the side through to the final whistle with a convincing score line of 56-5. Final Score: Singapore National Academy 5 - 56 Campion 1st XV Scorers: Callum Pettigrove x2, Owen Sherman x2, Ollie Lee, Alfie Hill, Calvin Bradley, George Rogers.......
By Billy Mullen and Michael Hogan
2nd XV Game - Singapore
There was a great deal of pressure on the 2nds to make a good start in this, the first game of the tour. Indeed the first competitive match for many months. The question was - had all the preparation, all the training, all the fund-raising been in vain. Answer - and emphatic No!?
We must not get carried away but the team jelled immediately and soon had points on the board. For the 3 staff that saw the Singaporean National Teams two years ago it was clear that they had improved but the pent up energy from the last few months hard training was being unleashed. As the priest said in the Farewell Mass - smash them with humility?.
There were shortcoming and there were times when we rushed our attacks and made impetuous mistakes but the job was done and done well with a score of 20 - 5 to Campion.
Arriving at a beautiful floodlit ground; the boys got off the coach confident and excited for their first game of the tour, however respectful of the battle about to commence. The 1st XV took their place in the stands, gazing upon the 2nd XV warming up. The boys were fully focused as an almost professional warm up took place.
All fired up the boys were cheered back into the changing rooms by a supportive 1st XV, where a strong and encouraging team talk was held by many of the elders in the team such as Jack Golding, George Rogers and Tom Stone. The mood was well and truly set and the boys knew exactly what they had to do to achieve their goal. The knock on the door then came and the captain George Rogers gave his last inspiring words before leading the team out with Trigger the Tiger our mascot bearing the English flag. With a light jog out of the changing rooms, the boys were met by a tunnel of noise from a rowdy 1st XV who added motivation to the nervous but highly enthusiastic team.
To start the game a great high kick from the Man Of The Match Mathew Meehan, with an even better chase from the leading pack of Agyei and DaCosta. The next few minutes of the battle were spent at gridlock with both teams showing great passion and physical desire to win the ball. However the Campion desire came out on top and the boys were quickly rolling with the ball in hand. A line break by a strong and determined DaCosta, was unluckily chopped down by an impressive Singaporean full back, lead to our first try as the boys got to the break down quickly. Mathew Meehan's great awareness of the game spotted the space out on the left flank as the Singapore back line scrambled back into their defensive duties. Ryan Mason used his fantastic knowledge of the game to get himself in unfamiliar territory out on the left wing to score the first try of the 2013 Campion tour. A wonderfully worked try was then topped off by a converted kick from Meehan to put Campion seven points ahead. The rest of the half was full of Campion bombardment upon the Singaporean defence who stood up well and prevented Campion from capitalising on their chances except Tom Laybourne's moment of brilliance where he pulled a dummy which confused the opponents and opened up a gap for the nippy scrum-half to score Campion's 2nd try making it 12-0 to Campion.
Half time arrived with the boys sweating from the unbearable humidity. With a little more inspiration from the coaches, Mr Jones, Mr Lapena and the Captain Rogers, the boys were now unfazed by the weather and were ready for another brutal second half with a great opposition. The second half started how the first ended, with a lot of ball from Campion but a great defence from Singapore. However, once again the Campion team found another way of breaking the defence by the boys heroically forcing a penalty in their favour. A quick tap and go from Layborne and the quick, nifty feet from Mason led to him surging past two flat footed Singaporean defenders to score his second try of the game, making it 17-0 to Campion. A little later in the second half, Matthew Meehan with a perfectly converted penalty kick secured the win for the Campion 2nd XV. However, the Singapore team did not give up and battled on to be awarded with a well earned try to make it 20-5, the final score.
The boys tired and hot after their inspiring performance were very pleased with their efforts and most importantly the result; kick starting the tour with a fantastic win. They looked on excitedly to the next match.
Final Score- Campion 2ndXV 20-5 Singapore National Academy U18
Scorers- Ryan Mason x2, Tom Layborne
By Taylor Magner and Joshua Harris
Singapore to Auckland
Tuesday started as a rest day with an opportunity to recover from the game, get your kit washed, pack and get some last minute shopping. The recovery session was pool based as shown in the photographs and while there are no major injuries several of the squad needed sore shoulders and other knocks to be seen by the Physio.
Five p.m. and we departed the hotel for Changi airport for what turned out to be the most difficult part of our travels so far - the 9 hrs to Auckland where nobody was able to sleep for more than an hour. Bleary eyed we made our way through the airport to meet our coach driver, Max, who will be with use throughout South Island.
When we arrived at Massey High School we were greeted with a traditional Maori welcome ceremony which included us signing a response in the form of Jerusalem. There was also the introduction to nose and forehead rubbing which was more than amusing to our boys!
Match day tomorrow and things won't be as friendly!
Auckland - Massey High School
The 2nd team started the day off with a great forward display winning 26-5 but this was followed by one of the best 1st XV displays for many years against Massey High School full 1sts.
Campion started with belief, commitment and great organisation. With just a few points in it at half time the opposition went ahead before we levelled it with 10 minutes to go. Our fitness and wing play was a key feature and enabled us to score again to secure a historic win 26 - 21.
A great start to our New Zealand visit.
Auckland - Massey High School - 1st XV
After a toughly fought second XV victory, the first team set out to maintain the unbeaten record on tour. Some wise words from Joe Heavey describing the S¯massive? high school as S¯unbeatable? led to skipper George Osborn regaining control and leading the team out through a rapturous tunnel to face the famous Haka.
Early nerves were settled as Pettigrove and Mullen shared six points with the boot and Campion dominating the early exchanges. However, a lack of composure with the exit strategy undid all of this good work as Massey High school stole the lead with a charged down try. After some stern words from the coaches, Campion decided to ignore these words by fumbling a missed penalty and having to scramble the ball into touch. Thinking the worst was over, the Campion centre's miscommunication compounded the misery as Oliver Lee gifted the opposition 13 an unchallenged canter under the sticks for seven. Campion responded with great character immediately as a barnstorming run from Greg Dordoy, minus a boot, drove the team into the opposition 22 before some slick passing allowed George Byron to slide into the corner, leaving the half time score at 14-11 to the home team.
Typical of the tour so far, Callum pettigrove (the road runner) produced another moment of magic scampering up the left touchline giving the visitors a 2 point lead midway through the second half. Unfortunately, some poor defensive structure exposed one of the slower boys.
Auckland - Massey High School - 2nd XV
We had already taken the stage in Singapore in emphatic style but our aim was to bring our form into West Auckland and to earn the respect of Massey High. We arrived at Massey high school the day before our game to meet our billets and for 70 minutes, our opponents. Most of us were nervous but everyone was excited for our first international game in New Zealand.
The warm up felt more relaxed than the warm up in Singapore, however we were still focusing on the game. We did not know what to expect from a team of this calibre but all we could do was give it our best, and that's what we did.
We started off the game very brightly, just like the game in Singapore. Although we were dominating, we couldn?t break down their solid defence. We received a penalty mid way through the first half and opted to kick for goal to get points on the board. However the usually consistent fly half Matt Meehan missed the penalty from just outside the 22 metre line. This didn?t matter as it took us to the last play of the first half to finally break down the defence as Jay Wynter scored his first try of the tour. We started off the second half the same way we ended the first. It didn?t take us long to break down the shook Massey High defence as Tom Stone went over the try line following an unstoppable maul. Mid way through the second half we scored our 3rd try, this time Jordan Da Costa easily breaking through their defence from a "pick and go” off the back of the ruck. Towards the end of the game Jay Wynter scored his 2nd try of the game and our 4th to put the game out of the reach of Massey high. Our 4th try was scored by using our forwards to our advantage and once again scoring from a "pick and go” off the back of the ruck, proving its effectiveness.
Nearer the end our pass was intercepted and their winger was away, with no one in sight he looked destined to score. However our determined flanker and try scorer, Jordan Da Costa chased him down from the other side of the field to prevent him from scoring and keeping Campion's clean sheet. On the last play of the second half, just like Campion in the first half, Massey High school scored and converted which meant the game ended 26-5.
By Michael Underwood
Auckland to Rotorua
We left our wonderful hosts at Massey High School early on Friday morning and began our journey down through the North Island. Our target was Rotorua and our first port of call was the Sky Line which is a cable car up a large hill to where the famous Rotorua luge. It was to prove a significant challenge to the boys. The initial beginners? slope that you have to start on, was originally dismissed by everyone as being unnecessary but their views changed after the initial descent as this was not the usual luge where you were basically guided down the shaped metal track. This was a hard twisting concrete track way with guide kerbs in occasional sections. The main attraction to the boys was that you could overtake and things started getting serious very quickly. The competition was that hot that it resembled an alpine edition of Top Gear. There were a few minor injuries and a least one pair of tracksuit bottoms that were ripped to shreds.
We later travelled to the thermal reserve which everyone one found particularly interesting although the initial attack of the sulphurous steam on the nasal membranes was a shock. Suddenly we all realised that the earth's crust in this area is very thin and as a results hot water and gases spurt to the surface as geysers and mud pools. The Maori guide was very informative and we soon realised the cultural significance to the indigenous population.
After we arrived at our hotel we were treated to a traditional welcome dinner and performance by local Maoris. This gave the boys a chance to eat meat that had been cooked underground by the geothermal forces and other traditional foods. Following this we were introduced to traditional Maori songs and dances and of course the Hakka. Some staff and boys were asked to get up and after instruction perform to the rest of the group much to the amusement of all.
A soak in the outdoor thermal spa pools under a full moon ended the day and everyone is positive and excited and looking forward to the next stage.
Disclaimer! I would just like to point out that getting blogs and emails back is becoming more and more difficult and that often they have to be composed on coaches or late at night. Internet access is expensive, patchy and slow and with bust schedules it is not always possible to get anything to you let alone a polished and complete photographic and written record! Apologies for this but I will keep sending what and when I can.
Earthquake hits central New Zealand!
Boys and staff were sent scurrying out of their accommodation this evening as a 6.5 earthquake hits Palmerston North. The experience was a bit of a shock for some as rooms rattled, doors and fluorescent lights swung wildly. Many agreed that it was a strange experience but it has to be said that the half of the group that were completing a recovery session in the college swimming pool didn't even notice!
Not only our host's hospitality but the rain and mud made us feel at home in Palmerston North. The second XV played the colts development side and won 24 to 19 in a hard-fought competition. Strong forward play was again a feature but our organisation was enough to resist a fight back from Palmerston who were 24-5 down.
The first XV stood together against an impressive haka and made a good start matching a conceded unconverted try with their own. Palmerston then went on to lead at half time through a penalty kick 8-5. The second half saw Campion fiercely holding the bulk of the territory and possession and fighting for a win. Palmerston made the decision to bring on some crucial substitutes at this late stage but Campion continued to press. Finally through a few lost opportunities and our opponents doggedness Palmerston fought back with a very late try to beat us 5 - 13.
Tuesday morning and the most of the party went to the Jetboat at Shotover. Oh boy! It was initially very scary as the two huge V8 engines powered the boat up the river but soon there was just a feeling of exhilaration as it flew 7km downstream at speeds over 80kph. Unfortunately cameras were not allowed (for various safety and commercial reasons) but it was clear from the faces of the three Campion boat loads that they had just had one of the best experiences of their lives. The skill of the drivers is remarkable as you pass along the narrow canyon as terrifying speeds. Amazing!
In the afternoon boys were allowed free time in Queenstown although nearly all went up the Gondola to the luge here. They cannot get enough!! Two members of staff (Friel and Lapena) have just gone on the parachute descent in this fantastic scenery and outdoor playground. However the other staff aren'?'t expendable so have stuck to more sedate activities.
We all meet at 8.00pm for dinner and it will be a competition between boys and staff for who has had the most exhilarating experience today!!!
Travelling further south tomorrow and snow is promised
Games against Menzies College
Two days rest in Queenstown has done both teams the world of good. Not only were several injured players back in the squad but energy levels were clearly back for both games.
Menzies College 1st XV, due to our repeated early errors, kicked their penalties well. However our back play and speed meant that our four tries were enough to gain a remarkable 20-14 win against a team that can't remember the last time they lost to a touring side.
The second team played an outstanding running game with some astounding moments of invention and overpowered Menzies development team 43 to 5.
Wyndham to Balclutha (South Otago Boys)
After the two games against Menzies college the tourists were treated to great hospitality at the rugby club venue by the Wyndham parents. They then took the boys off to their billets around this sheep and dairy farming area.
It is quite remote here and an extensive farming area. Being generally low-lying and resembling the northern agricultural areas of the uk meant that the rain carrying winds have swept across and lashed us for the last couple of days. This has coincided with the two days of billeting for the boys but appears not to have affected the activities that host families had planned for them. They have certainly been up to some interesting things!!!!!
As the boys got on the coach this morning staff briefly questioned each boy and it was clear that they had been treated very well and had been introduced to a host of NZ rural pastimes! Including:
- Hunting wild boar with hounds tagged with GPS.
- Quad bike riding to round up sheep or just get muddy.
- Paint-balling which means some are carrying battle scars but receiving little sympathy from the Physio.
- Watching a possum being brutally dispatched against a wall.
- Target shooting with shotguns and rifles.
- Barn partying too!
When full the coach set off to a local dairy farm which has 900 jersey cows and was not only producing milk but its own range of cheeses and yoghourt.
The lads were invited down into the pit beneath 30 cows and have a go at connecting their udders to the milking machine. This was huge entertainment value as the cows shuffled and stamped as inexperienced hands misconnected teats and suction cups. Being in such close proximity to the back end of so many bovine specimens had obvious risks and in the end the inevitable happened. Noel's trainers are no longer new!!!!
On the walk to the cheese shed and shop we came across a small barn with week old calves. Well you have never seen a bunch of macho, rugby-playing hulks dissolve so fast into a bunch of softies. And that was the staff! When we finally dragged them away to the cheese shop we sampled local cheddar and they had fried up some haloumi too. It went down very well.
Next stop was the sheep farm owned by one of the rugby coaches. He had got a sheep-shearing friend up to demonstrate how to shear. When the first ewe was dragged to the wooden platform kicking and wriggling all the boys were shocked, even more so when volunteers were asked for! Up stepped several boys and a couple of staff to try their hand at shearing but with the expert over seeing to make sure it didn't become sheep peeling! Ouch! It was a great opportunity to see what life is like in this most south of southern areas.
Off now towards games and billeting with South Otago boys near Dunedin. The good news is the sun is out and the boys are looking forward to two good games. The firsts are hoping to play as well as the seconds' running-passing display two days ago. The boys have been very well received wherever they have played or been billeted. They have been complimented for their manners and friendliness. They have been a credit to school and family. Lets hope this continue!
Back now to coach games such as True or False (did one of the forwards try to eat a paintball as he thought it was a sweet!), Joke of the day (did you hear about the mountaineer who punched his sherpa as he didn't like his altitude!) or everybody's favourite - Gareth's fact of the day!
Games against South Otago Boys
South Otago had already heard about our tour success and their coach made no secret that they had their full 1st XV out for the game. It also included their U18 All Black winger and national sprint champion. It obviously wasn't going to be easy but then none of the games have been.
The day started with the 2nd XV as usual and, as usual, they put together another performance of high intensity running rugby. Passing and running were excellent and soon the opposition realised that containment, and not victory, was their only option. Campion won 56 to 10.
The 1st XV came out to the cheers of the muddied 2nds and many of the billeting families. The pace was furious and there were as many superb breakthroughs as there were forced errors and turnovers.
10 - 5 down at half time the Campion side maintained their work rate but the opposition were matching us move for move. Their winger scored a second try but eventually Campion's resilience lead to a 19-15 lead. However in the confusion of last frantic move of the game South Otago scored, winning the game by just one point 20-19.
Balclutha to Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
We left South Otago school early this morning and after thanking the host families we began the drive to Dunedin. Known as the Edinburgh of the Southern Hemisphere there are strong Scottish influences throughout this town which apparently is as far from London as you can get! It is literally the other side of the planet.
Our coach driver for the South Island, Wayne, lives in Dunedin and so gave us an insider's tour of the city. Soon we were off the coach and starting the walk to the steepest residential street in the world. The 35 degree angle is ridiculous but this was soon seen as, not just a tourist attraction but a training opportunity! The boys were put into three groups and then on command raced up the slope for some 200 metres or so. To be fair the first few from each group did very well but most struggled with the rising lactic acid levels and had to walk or stop completely. Other tourist looked on in awe and amazement!
Soon we were back on the coach and heading for the hotel where we waited to be picked up by the 3 mini coaches of the organisation that were taking us out to explore the Otago Peninsula. The weather was excellent with clear blue skies, mild temperatures and just a few wispy clouds. Initially some of the boys were not impressed by the variety of bird life that was seen or even the panoramic views from the top of the headland back across to Dunedin, however as the afternoon progressed things started to change. First of all we saw white Herons close up which our guide had not seen in 45 years of such trips. Then were saw a Fur Seal colony and two species of Albatross and out across the Pacific Ocean we could see Dolphins jumping around amongst the fish that had encircled.
We then moved down to the sand dune lined beach that large breakers were attacking for one of those unexpected encounters. We had been informed that we would see Sea lions and Yellow eyed Penguins but it would have been hard for us to have been properly prepared for the next hour or so.
To get to the Penguins we had to walk along the dunes past the group of immature male Seals that inhabit this private conservation beach. An as we came over the dunes towards them it suddenly hit us that these creatures were huge, boisterous and very close. Much bigger than the Fur Seals, some were estimated to be 350 kgs. There were nearly twenty males that were sparring with each other but the unusual presence of 4 females had meant that they had S¯upped their game?! Mock fights ensued all around but every now and then the Sea Lions would eye us and make movements towards us. We were very glad to have such knowledgeable guides with us.
We passed the excited group and made a little way up the hill behind the beach and then came across the nesting sites of the yellow eyed Penguin which is a strange creature in that it lives in colonies but at the same time is solitary and will not tolerate other Yellow eyed Penguins around other than its lifelong mate. Watching these birds swim ashore, sneak a glance across to the Sea Lions, and then run at a fast waddle across to the beach was more than a little amusing. They then hopped their way up the hill to their nest sites.
As we descended and walked along the beach towards the Sea Lions we were treated to the final highlight of a long day as one of the larger males decided he had enough of us and made several attempts to chase us away at the gallop.
Dunedin to Christchurch
Monday was a long day with a 5 hour drive from Dunedin to Christchurch. We were treated to some amazing views on the way through and every time another vista appeared the boys never tired of humming the most recognisable part of the Lord of the Rings theme music. Well at least it keeps them amused!
It was early afternoon when we arrived at St Bedes and the boys were released from the coach on to the impressive grounds of this famous private school. There was no training session but just an opportunity for them to jog off the journey and enjoy their new found game of rugby volleyball! Soon the billeting families arrived and took the boys off to various places around Christchurch which is still very much affected by the earthquakes two years ago.
They boys came into school with their billets at 8.15 this morning which is the first day of term for the St Bedes students. Everyone jumped onto the coach for a sightseeing tour of the city and an opportunity to do some shopping before the games start at midday.
The whole party was shocked at the devastation. 70% of the city centred buildings either collapsed or declared unsafe and earmarked for demolition. 90% of the distinctive old stone churches were destroyed including the Cathedral that the 2005 tourists visited. Roads are closed everywhere and the ones that are open feel like a roller-coaster ride. Demolition and construction sites are everywhere. But there are some really sad sites such as the Catholic Basilica which has stacks of shipping containers either side of it to stabilise the remains before they decide what to do with it. Demolition of this once beautiful building looks inevitable.
However, on a more frivolous note, the massive new Westfield was undamaged and that's where the boys are for the next hour before setting off for the game.
This will not only be the last but the toughest game of the tour. Even though we are playing the seconds and thirds this is the top level of school rugby. Their first team is packed full of 'imports' from around NZ and neighbouring islands. Their seconds are still one of the best school sides in NZ.
St Bedes - Christchurch
In brilliant winter sunshine the 2nd XV started at a great pace and dominated the start of the game against a St Bedes development team that included Japanese and Italian scholarship players. For the first time this tour the seconds didn't have the attacking flare that had been a feature in all their previous games. While they were competitive throughout the game the hosts won by a converted try 12 - 5. That's a record of 5 wins and just this loss.
The 1st XV approached their biggest game of the tour with a mixture excitement and sentiment as for some it was the last ever game in a Campion shirt.
The initial successes belonged to Campion and it was clear that the team weren't going down without a fight. Two penalties down the St Bedes team upped their game and were soon level but today was a day that Campion's reputation was going to be enhanced whatever the final score. The second half began with continued resilience in our defence and great initiative in attack and eventually a running breakthrough came from a surprise combination of Heavey, Bradley to allow Lee to score under the posts. The conversion kicked by Pettigrove meant that Campion had a 13 to 6 lead with time running out.
Soon there were stirrings on the touch line and four substitutes came on from the St Bedes bench to huge cheers from the large home crowd. These players took the competition up another notch and the pace was ferocious. Campion's defence conceded a try but the conversion drifted away from the upright. There were just a few minutes for Campion to see out for a historic victory. When the final whistle came the boys were jubilant. The win of 13-11 was apparently the first time a St Bedes team had lost on home soil since 2007! An amazing end to an amazing tour.
Christchurch to Melbourne
You were expecting to wake this morning and hear of our arrival in Surfers Paradise, Australia, however we knew things were going too well.
We woke at 3.45 am and were on our way to Christchurch Airport by 4.00. An early start but we were looking forward to 4 days of fun in the sun. Our only concern was the mist that shrouded the airport.
It's too painful still to go through what happened in detail but when 'delayed' went from 3 hrs to 5 hrs and then to 'canceled', everybody's heart sank. Frantic efforts by our staff to emphasise to the Virgin Airways team our need to get out of NZ today failed. Every option was looked at and at one point a flight to Aukland looked a possibility so we could catch a flight to Brisbane from there. The size of the group and the continuing disruption of the early morning fog made a rapid solution impossible.
So where are we now?
Well after 8 hours in the airport we were bused into post-apocalypse central Christchurch to the Ibis hotel. This is one of the few buildings still standing and is next to the remains of the Cathedral. Up again at 4.00am we are due to fly to Melbourne!! Yes, Melbourne on New Zealand airways where we can catch the VA flight to Brisbane.
We should arrive at lunchtime on Thursday local time. It has to be said that the boys have been great throughout the whole ordeal and been supportive of the frazzled staff. They will make the most of it when they get there. Watch out Brisbane!!!!!
Arrival in Brisbane
All arrived safe and sound in surfers paradise, Brisbane. Albeit by splitting the group and 24 hrs late!
Surfers Paradise, Brisbane
Well it took a long while to get here but it has been worth the wait!
The hotel is excellent as some of the party already knew from the 2011 tour. As soon as the boys had unpacked and found their way round this beautiful, modern but very stylish hotel (Google QT hotel, Surfers Paradise), they were on there way to the beach. It is a long and wide strip of sand that has safety as its priority as there are lifeguard stations all along to protect surfers and swimmers from the dangerous rip tides and heavy surf. Others walked the short distance into the centre which may remind some of them of holiday in the Mediterranean but the scale is somewhat bigger.
Later they met staff back at the hotel for the regular doling out of cash for their evening meal. However while they were ready to eat there was an unexpected side attraction. New Zealand TV has its own version of TOWIE called GC which obviously is based in Australia's Gold Coast and guess what..........they are filming some story lines in our hotel!!!! And to the boys amazement while they were look on at the proceedings the director asked if any of them wanted to be extras!
They were filming a small fashion show of designer clothes for men by one of the cast and need a group of young males to make the atmosphere. Well she was nearly killed in the stampede. But then the staff had to step aside and let the boys through!!!! They stood around for some time as the cameras, sound and lights were repeatedly adjusted. At one point the director nearly lost all of them as their appetites grew! But eventually the scenes were shot and the cast and director could not have been happier. Well, except for our new stars of stage and screen - Campion rugby tour 2013!
The following morning the tour were treated to probably the best breakfast in the world! The range of foods and their presentation at QT is stunning! Ask the boys for details on their return.
9.45 coach left the hotel for the 30 mins transfer to Wet and Wild where we were to spend the bulk of the day before going out this evening for our Tour Final Dinner.
They have absolutely loved their day at the water park. Especially so as we must have made up 50% of the people in their. They had very few queues and the weather was perfect for a day messing about on slides and tubes. Having said that some of the rides were quite scary. Vertical drops, the ridiculous Tornado and the bungee swing thing were not to be taken likely.
It's good to see them all having such a great, and well earned time but tonight things will start to change as we move to what is going to be an emotional final dinner and then the spectre of the long, long flight home looms over us.
You may find that a slightly different son may return this coming weekend. (I don't mean we are swapping them!)
Random Bits and Pieces
Here are a few random items that you may be interested in!
At Palmerston North boys school we were accommodated in the school boarding accommodation with the boys in two dormitories of 14 and 28 beds. The law had to be laid down after the first of two nights as there was a little too much excitement at lights out. So when two members went into the dorm at 11pm to check all were asleep they were pleasantly surprised to see that there was complete silence and all appeared to be asleep. However as Mr Lapena got half way down the room the trap was sprung as he stepped into one of the carefully placed bins and as he tumbled to the floor the whole room erupted in guffaws and screams! They will pay the price.
When the earthquake started some boys didn't even realise but those in the main building felt the swaying sensation and had various reactions. One thought there was a large animal under their bed another thought he was having some kind of hallucination. But the bulk of them ran screaming from the block like playtime at primary school! While it was a potential life-saving action it still brings a smile to the faces of those that witnessed it!
Coach journeys have started to develop a familiar pattern. Firstly the amusing but sarcastic coach driver, Max, will hassle us about being X minutes late. Then after the head count the duty team are obliged to deliver a selection of jokes over the PA system before Gareth gives us our fact of the day. The jokes have to be of a particularly poor standard and typified by the magician farmer who turned his tractor into a field
In Rotorua where we were treated to a Maori cultural show, we were asked on the staff table who was in charge as they wanted to involved the leader in a ceremony of welcome which involved nose-rubbing, being approached by the scariest tattooed person you have every seen and then having a spear repeatedly thrust into you face. When asked again for our leader the brave staff quick-wittedly blurted out 'Calvin, yes Calvin Bradley, he's our leader'. Undaunted the poor lad stood strong throughout the ceremony and demonstrated his leadership potential! Since then whenever he appears in a room or onto the coach he is greater with massed calls of 'chief, chief, chief'.
Last Day and Tour Dinner
Friday evening was our last evening together and saw the traditional formal tour dinner in a very accommodating Italian restaurant. They not only provided an excellent meal for us but as we took over the whole restaurant they allowed us to stay until we has finished the various speeches and presentations. There were many of both! So here is a small selection.........
- 2nd XV players player of the tour, Tom Stone.
- 2nd XV coaches player of the tour, Jordan Da Costa 1st XV player's player of the tour, Tom Maddley.
- 1st XV coaches player of the tour, Greg Dordoy.
- Player of the tour, George Osbourne.
In addition to this there was the James Patterson memorial prize for all-round contribution to the tour and this special award was presented to Matthew Birtles. Also short listed for this were Calvin Bradley, Greg Dordoy and Tour captain George Rogers.
You will have noticed that I have rarely mentioned boys by name in these blogs because as soon as you mention some it seems unfair to others. However on this occasion it is appropriate to do so. But it must be made very clear that the decisions have been very difficult. I know that I sound a bit like Simon Cowell in the final stages of the X factor but on this occasion ALL the boys have been excellent.
It is true that some of the weird group noises and chants including chanting mic mic mic, seagulls calls, lord of the rings hums, exaggerated roll calls and the special significance of 39 have all been tiresome at times, but it indicates the unity of this group. Of my three tours and many other school trips this has truly been the best group I have had the pleasure of travelling with. On and off the field they have been a credit to their families and school. I have no need to tell you of the endless list of people that have asked who we are and then comment in how impressed they are with us as that is almost usual with Campion groups on tours, trips and visits. But amongst these this group is exceptional. Staff have had very few (it could actually be none!) pupil issues to deal with. The fine system for minor infringements collapsed through redundancy in the second week and the pink 'wobble' wig and vile Hawaiian 'twit' shirt have had only minor use.
Well done lads and well done coaches.
It was also announced via a letter from the headmaster that Mr McDarby has been appointed 1st XV coach from September. This obviously was warmly welcomed by the boys.
While I'm winding up various issues I should mention injuries and health issues on the tour. There have been quite a few rugby related injuries including concussions, dislocations, muscle tears and possible nose and rib fractures. I haven't mentioned them in the match reports so not to cause undue concerns. In two or three more significant cases we did contact parents at the time. But it has to be said that the boys' fitness and preparation plus their willingness to take the physiotherapist's advice and treatment has helped to keep them all playing to the very last game! It is also true that the luge in Rotorua caused as many injuries as some of the games themselves! That will have to be included in the risk assessment for the next tour!!!
The next morning the boys had a delayed checkout time and so we had a late breakfast and very relaxed day until departing the hotel at 6 pm. Present shopping, swimming, sunbathing, bodyboarding and the like have been the order of the day. Here's to a safe and uncomplicated journey home!