Rugby Tour 2019

Saturday 13th July

The 2019 Campion Tour party assembled at the school for the 3.00pm leaving mass led perfectly by 1982 Tour alumni member #10, Father Andrew Headon.

Once the mass had ended, following some final admin, boys packed the coach, said goodbyes and made the short journey to Heathrow. Following a seamless check in, the squad waited for the flight to Singapore. The flight was 13 hours but relatively straightforward. We await our connecting fight to Adelaide.   


Sunday 14th July

A day lost to travel. Sunday began in the air on the way to Singapore, continued with a 5 hour stop over and finished with a 6 hour flight to Adelaide. Nothing to report other than tired staff and pupils!


Monday 15th July - Adelaide

We arrived in Adelaide at 8am local time after a long but trouble free journey. All the boys behaved impeccably and any potential jet lag was soon forgotten with news of the incredible nature of the England cricket teams World Cup victory.  Bags collected, we headed off to the Glenelg area of Adelaide. The weather was decidedly ‘English’ and the planned beach session was hastily re-hashed.

A 60 minute mixture of stretching, ball work and pre match discussions passed by routinely. The boys were then sent away to find a suitable lunch and rehydrate ahead of the evening fixtures. Check in at the hotel was brought forward slightly, allowing highlights of the cricket to be consumed before boys and staff made the most of the first beds we have seen in days!

4.30pm saw the squad assemble looking pristine if a little bleary-eyed, in tour ‘number ones’. The 15 minute journey took us to Southern Suburbs RFC for the eagerly awaited 1st matches of the 2019 rugby tour. Two victories achieved, (please see separate match reports), we enjoyed the hospitality provided by the host club and the South Australia rugby programme. Presentations were completed and new friends made before we made the final journey back to the hotel and into a much needed deep sleep ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Middleton Beaches.


Match: Campion 2nd XV vs South Australia XV

2 years in the making, the 2019 rugby tour kicked off under flood lights at the Southern Suburbs rugby club. An Australian winter provided conditions akin to home as Charlie Watts opened the game up with a high restart. Adrenaline was understandably high as the 2nd team, captained by the returning Callum Burnett, made early inroads into the home side.

A solid set of phases saw the campion side camped in the opponents 22. A well directed cross field kick caught the defensive team off guard as it was gleefully received by Reece Harriott who dived over to record the first points of tour. The ensuing 20 minutes followed a similar pattern as the visitors intensity steam-rolled  a shell shocked SA. This time pressure exerted saw Liam Grannell break the line powerfully before offloading to the electric Harriott who again executed the chance, making it 10-0. Harriott continued his excellent start, running hard down the left wing before supporting runners collected his pass and Burnett powered over.

Straight from the re-start, Dom Chaplin exemplified the excellent start by punching through the middle, allowing Alex Brennand to collect his own fumble and scurry over the line for a 20-0 lead. At this point the home side seemingly woke from their slumber, having been dazzled by the lights and the outstanding start from the English. For the first time they constructed some attacking pressure burrowing deep into Campion’s 22. Solid, determined defence prevented a certain try before a turnover saw the impressive Grannell lead the charge from our own line, before releasing Harriott who sprinted 70 meters only to be denied by a commendable cover tackle. Ever alert, a quick pop from the floor saw the industrious Noonan collect the ball and charge under the post for a 27-0 lead.

Half time saw a number of changed from both sides, with the home team bolstered by some impressive replacements. Equally, the flight began to take its toll as Campion looked in danger of wilting just as SA became a much more competitive opponent. Playing with 14 following a sin bin, Campion’s defensive structure became too narrow and 3 unanswered tries brought the score back to 27-19 as panic began to set in. South Australia’s substitute 12 and 15 were making a considerable impact.

Panic was setting in, starved of the ball, Campion needed calm heads. Noonan, Mullen and Milne provided a little bit of experience and it was indeed Mullen who managed to convert our first and only chance of the half, picking from the base of the of the scrum adding 5 points. The try eased any nerves of a successful comeback, however, further South Australian pressure followed, spurred on by a sizeable local crowd. Despite this, Campion defended with heart; Matt Edwards punching more than his weight leading a brave defensive effort.

The game ended with our white shirts a more familiar shade of brown, a local dry cleaner will be wilfully employed in the morning, but it was the sound of pure delight that washed through the nights sky as the much needed final whistle blew, ensuring a 32-19 victory.

Team - Lucas, Davies, Austin, Pembroke, Milne, Lanfear, Chaplin, Burnett, Roberts, Watts, Noonan, Grannell, Collins-Edwards, Harriott, Brennand
Rep - Fahy, Chuter, Daly, Attelwell, Banks, Muckacha, Brooks, Mullen, Colls
Tries - Harriott (2), Burnett, Brennand, Noonan, Mullen
Cons - Brennand (1)


Match: Campion 1st XV vs. South Australia U18s

The 1st XV kicked off their tour facing up to the best players South Australia had to offer. The opponents themselves were off to Canberra the next morning to compete in the inter-state championships. Led expertly by captain Dan Pembroke, the Campion side hit the ground running, blasting out of the blocks, entertaining the crowd to 20 minutes of scintillating rugby. Pace, power and precision were coupled with fantastic decision making typified by the early inroads made by the Campion pack.

A period of early pressure saw a well oiled line out completed with a catch and drive allowing Hooker Redmond to finish the move and secure the 1st points of tour. Alfie George duly converted to extras taking a 7-0 lead. South Australia had some quality and offered no little threat, their 12 showing his intent with a marauding run up the middle.  He was met with the familiar sight of James Underwood, who stopped him in his tracks in what was to prove a fruitless night for the powerful Australian.

Campion recovered from this momentary lapse, soon on the front foot again led by the outstanding Walker. Great attacking intent up the right saw Matt Earing finish a difficult chance in expert fashion, much to the delight of Mr Squire. Alfie George was beginning to dictate play from his role as Fly Half, bamboozling the opponents with a quick thinking tap and go penalty, inviting his runners to punch up the middle twice before releasing Tiernan to drive under the post for a 19-0 lead. George finished the half with a 25 meter penalty giving the visitors a 21-0 lead at the break.

At the turn around, a few flight-weary bodies were replaced. Yates entered the fray as did Miles Davies, fresh from 70 minutes for the 2nds! Davies held his own as replacement hooker, as Rory Gray added more points with another well executed rolling maul led by the intelligent Jowers. At 29-0 the game became a tactical grind. Half backs George and Grannell ensured Campion's territory was safe with smart kicking, whilst Ledbitter, Bolton and Yates’s ferocious defence endured South Australia’s attacking ambitions were kept firmly in their place.

In a fitting ending to the game, two outstanding players on the night combined to add the final points. George executing a perfect grubba kick gleefully collected by Walker in the corner. 34-0 was a great start, capped off by excellent hospitality from the Southern Suburbs club.

Team - Gray, Redmond, Ledbitter, Jowers, Hogan O’Neill, Pembroke, Bolton, Tiernan, Grannell, George, Valentini, Walker, Ugoh, Earing, Underwood
Replacements - Yates, Davies
Tries - Redmond, Earing, Tiernan, Gray, Walker
Cons - George (3)
Pens - George (1)   


Tuesday 16th July - Middleton Beach

After a much needed and well earned sleep, the tour party meet for a hearty breakfast before boarding the coach for the 90 minute journey to Middleton. The squad split into two as half spent 2 hours in the surf whilst the second group were taken to a picturesque spot for a light recovery session. 

A brief lunch was followed by a reversal of roles before we left Middleton and returned to Adelaide city centre. It’s safe to say the boys were tired but the cool temperatures in the southern ocean provided the perfect remedy. Unfortunately, the performances produced on the rugby field were not to be replicated on the surf boards - we must have provided an astonishing sight to the surf mad locals!

A few bumped and bruised bodies were tended to by a local physio who spent last night and this evening supporting our players. Upon the return to the hotel boys took the opportunity to catch up on laundry, and prepare for the squad dinner booked at a pizza and pasta restaurant in the heart of Adelaide. Here Mr Mcdarby took the opportunity to discuss last nights game and small presentations were made to the players of the matches.

Players voted for Player of the Match

From the 2nd XV
3. Reece Harriott
2. Callum Burnett
1. Jimmy Lanfear - Man of the match

From the 1st XV
3. Alfie George
2. Tom Walker
1. Matt Earing  - Man of the Match

It was off to bed with a full stomach ahead of tomorrow’s transfer to Sydney.


Wednesday 17th July - Adelaide to Sydney

7.00am alarm clocks rang loud for a 7.30 fitness session in the local park. A few bleary eyed young men were put through their paces with a mixture of jogging and some high intensity exercises. We then made the short walk back to the hotel for breakfast before packing and checking out of our rooms. Bags were stored in the lobby whilst the boys got an opportunity to shop for goodies.

We boarded the coach at 12.45 and made our way to the airport ahead of our flight to the beautiful city of Sydney. The 3.00pm flight to Sydney provided a great opportunity to sleep and we seemingly landed as soon as we took off in many cases!

A 25 minute coach journey took us to St Ignatius Riverview where their master in charge billeted the boys out to the schools families. We will meet up again in the morning and look forward to hearing about the first experiences of billeting.

Thursday 18th July

The tour party met on site at our host school St Ignatius College Riverview. The school is an outstanding place mixing large facilities with grand buildings. The views were also incredible, looking out over the Sydney Harbour.

Lots of discussion filled the air as the boys exchanged stories of the houses they were billeted at and the families they had met. A 90 minute training session took place under a beautiful winter sun. Temperatures of 20 degrees were a welcome change from our Adelaide experiences!

With training finished, we hopped onto our coach and made the journey in to the city where we boarded our vessel ahead of the harbour cruise. The driver was a character and kept the boys amused as the famous Sydney sights came into view. Once aboard the cruise, an outstanding buffet opened processing’s before the boys got the panoramic views on the cruise around the harbour. The Harbour bridge and Opera house provided fantastic  photo opportunities. The boys are realising how lucky they are.

Once the cruise was done, we returned to St Ignatius and the boys were sent off with their billets for the evening. Big game day tomorrow.


Friday 19th July - St. Ignatius College, Riverview

The boys woke at their billets houses and had the luxury of a late meet. Not required to be at school until midday, the boys enjoyed a variety of experiences, ranging from a lazy morning in the pool to a speed boat ride around the Balmoral beach area. The squad assembled at 12.00 ahead of the two fixtures (see separate match reports).

Following two tough games we enjoyed a post match reception laid on by the parents of Riverview. Once the presentation and speeches were complete and we said our goodbyes to the host families, we boarded the coach back to Manly where we enjoyed a squad dinner before an early night ahead of our morning flight to Auckland.


Match: Campion 1st XV vs. St Ignatius College

With the purposeful words of Dan Pembroke still ringing in their ears, the 1st XV took the field to face St Ignatius 1st XV. Rarely before had these players faced the quality about to be showcased, but excitement ran through the veins as Campion exerted the early pressure.

Line out ball won, Campion produced a driving maul which was cynically halted by the home side. The referee chose to be lenient and in keeping with the earlier game, Campion lost the resulting line out ball, forfeiting decent field position and didn’t return to the oppositions 22 for another 20 minutes.

St Ignatius set about providing a master class in ball retention and movement. Campions defence was impressive but constantly over worked. The scrum half  was providing excellent service and 3 times in the 20 minutes, Riverview took us to the wide channels before slicing through with clever inside ball. Tries resulted each time, taking the score to 24-0 in the blink of an eye. Campion were shell shocked having hardly put a foot wrong and yet being seemingly out of site.

Lessons were being learnt and a glimmer of hope was provided when Luca Valentini bundled over under the posts to finish a rare attacking opportunity just before the break. Half time came and went with Campion adding a penalty to drag the score to 24-10. It was pleasing to watch as the boys went toe to toe, Campion never losing spirit and working together to stay in the game.

It was unfortunate then that following more Campion possession, with our opponents starting to take notice, a mis-placed pass was intercepted to allow Riverview an unopposed run to the line. It was again pleasing that Campion responded. They grew throughout the game and it was Joe Hogan O’Neill who had the days final say, finding space to the left of the posts for his first try of the tour. George kicked the conversion to make the final score 29-17. No shame in defeat and lots learned against an exceptional school side.

Team - Ledbitter, Redmond, Gray, Jowers, Hogan O’Neill, Yates, Pembroke, Tiernan, Grannell, George, Valentini, Ugoh, Walker, Earing, Underwood
ep - Bolton, Brennand, Burnett
Tries - Valentini, Hogan O’Neill
Cons - George (2)
Pens - George (1)


Match: Campion 2nd XV vs. St Ignatius College

Touring isn’t always easy and the Campion squad were to find themselves up against an Australian super-power. The setting was outstanding, drenched in winter sun. Unfortunately the surroundings were the only nicety offered for the next two hours as our squad ran head on into two incredibly tough matches. 

Campion were returning to Riverview two years after our previous visit in 2017. That day ended with two away victories, a scenario St Ignatius were unwilling to consider happening again. The quality of the opposition became clear minutes into the game as Campion found themselves under intense pressure trapped on their own line. Smooth, controlled handling manoeuvred the Australians over the line and under the post for a 7-0 lead. 

Moments later the score was increased to 12-0 after a quick tap and go penalty and more slick handling saw the home side run in another try. The pattern for the day had been set early and Campion seemed unable to stem the tide as the half followed a familiar pattern. As always, Campion's spirit was never in question, all boys works tirelessly, with bodies being put on the line. 19-0 was a slightly faltering half time score but testament to the dogged nature of the boys from Essex.

Half time bright about some tactical changes and the opening salvo came from Campion. Typically today however, a slight error was costly as a lost ball was gratefully revived by Riverview tan the bell up the middle for 24-0. Despite the punishing score line, Campion had flashes of brilliance. Noonan was tireless in defence whilst Matt Murphy added some much needed grit. Matt Edwards continued his impressive start to tour mixing solid defence with excellent attacking intent.

The game followed a similar pattern with St Ignatius running in two more tries to lead 36-0 before Edwards managed to beat his defender with great footwork to add 5 points to the score. Campion will not often meet such an accomplished 2nd XV. No shame in the result, but an eye opener as to the work needed to be done ahead of some tough games in NZ. 

Team - Lucas, Davies, Attelwell, Chaplin, Pembroke, Brooks, Burnett, Lanfear, Roberts, Banks, Noonan, Collings-Edwards, Colls, Harriott, Brennand
Reps - Austin, Mullen, Milne, Murphy, Tarten,  Fennessey, Fahy, Daly, Mukucha, Cross, Chuter
Tries - Collings-Edwards 


Saturday 20th July

An early start for us all as we met in the reception of the Novotel hotel at 6.45. A quick breakfast was grabbed before the coach set off for Sydney airport. Timings were tight an we made swift process through check in and security, arriving on the dot for boarding the 3 hour flight to Auckland.

A smooth flight and a safe landing saw us arrive in the beauty of Auckland, although the weather once again beat us, rain started to fall the moment we stepped out of the arrivals lounge! A 40 minute coach journey saw us pull into Massey High where we met with some familiar faces from previous encounters. The boys were billeted and, with minimal fuss, were taken off to enjoy an evening with their new hosts.

We will meet again at Massey Rugby club at 12.00 tomorrow ahead of the two fixtures.

Sunday 21st - Auckland

Boys awoke at their billets houses and had the opportunity to explore Auckland and the surrounding areas during the morning. Both in Sydney and now Auckland, it has been impressive to watch our young men deal with the nerves ahead of leaving with their new billets. Initial nerves are transformed over night into beaming smiles and cool stories of the things they have experienced. It’s has also been gratifying to hear how polite and well received our boys have been.

We met at 12.00 at the Massey Rugby Club, scene of a famous tour victory back in 2013. The club is very welcoming and provided the backdrop for two excellent Campion performances against our friends from Auckland (see separate match reports). Post receptions came and went and it was soon off back to the billets house to enjoy one last night of hospitality ahead of tomorrow’s drive to Rotoru.


Match: Campion 1st XV vs. Massey High School

The history books will say that the Massey Rugby club pitches played host to one of the most famous victories when, in 2013, George Osborne’s 1st XV faced down the Haka and stole in for a last minute try to win a unprecedented victory. That performance was going to take some beating, but the class of 2019 set about the task with an insatiable appetite. Despite early English pressure, it was indeed Massey who opened the scoring when an offside offence was greeted with a 3 point penalty from the home side.

Playing up a slight hill, Campion soon got back with the excellent Redmond finishing a catch and drive to take a 5-3 lead. Matt Earing then converted a right flank chance, Tom Walker bursting up the middle before outstanding handling from George and Underwood left Earing to dive over in the corner.

10-3 at half time was a fair reflection although Campions fitness levels  and momentum Down the slope were soon to take control. First the ever impressive Walker showed all his class with a solo run measuring 50m, combing footwork and brute strength to lengthen the lead to 15-3. Massey were still in the game, throwing huge pressure at the defensive unit, looking likely to score in the left corner only for the final pass to be intercepted for Earing to run the length of the field for 23-3.

The score line now seemed beyond Massey and the confidence and exuberance of the Campion unit started to flow. Some outstanding running rugby followed, led by Walker and the elusive Underwood. Solid line out ball allowed Rory Gray to bundle over in the left corner before Alex Ugoh ended proceedings with a solo effort gleefully celebrated with the Swan Dive.

The final score of 36-3 was a credit to the bounce back ability of the team. Friday and Riverview has been put to bed in the most welcome of fashions.

Team - Gray, Redmond, Ledbitter, Jowers, Hogan O’Neill, Burnett, Bolton, Tiernan, Grannell, George, Pembroke, Walker, Ugoh, Earing, Underwood
Rep - Edwards, Murphy
Tries - Redmond, Earing x 2, Walker, Gray, Ugoh
Cons - 3


Match: Campion 2nd XV vs. Massey High School

2 days on, the defeat in Sydney still loomed large. Much had been learned, not least that tour is tough and the boys would need to draw on all their reserves of energy and motivation to compete here in Auckland. A few of the mythical Chris Jones ‘toughen up pills’ were needed to ensure we were at the races. Tour is also about ownership and it fell to Ed Noonan to assume the roll of captain with Burnett promoted to the 1st XV. Sean Green, back fit, led a much needed rallying call moments before kick off, which set the tone for an impressive display. 

Campion started on the front foot making early inroads, with two good scoring opportunities missed in the opening moments. Joe Tarten continued to lead the charge, breaking the line before Brandon Attelwell dived over to finally capitalise on our early pressure. Whilst Massey provided a lesser threat than Fridays opponent, they were no mugs, and it was pleasing to see the outstanding Matt Murphy hit a great line going in for the second try. 

Buoyed with confidence following an electric start, Campion continued the point scoring, this time the ever improving Matt Collings-Edwards breaking through for a 3 try lead. The line out functioned much more effectively, led by Luke Pembroke and assisted expertly by Gabriel Milne. It was the former who caught the latest line out and set up a destructive driving maul which saw Miles Davies burrow over for a 24-0 lead. 

With such a large touring squad, half time has proved difficult for continuity as mass substitute are required to keep an equally playing time. Pleasingly today, such was the intensity, every replacement came on and added value. Liam Daly was causing problems as he marauded from full back, Joe Colls showed fear attacking intent and Tendai didn’t let the side down. Reece Harriott entered the fray and employed his silky running style to good effect, first finishing in the right corner before later collecting a Watts grubba to score on the left for a bow unassailable 34-0 lead. It was a perfect days work, a mixture of Year 13 power and intent, capped with a number of excellent Year 12 performers. Each and every player left the field exhausted yet delighted with a great return  to form 

Team - Murphy, Davies, Attelwell, Pembroke, Milne, Chaplin, Lanfear, Tarten, Brennand, Watts, Noonan, Edwards, Mukacha, Coll’s, Daly 
Reps - Lucas, Cross, Austin, Mullen, Brooks, Banks, Green, Harriott 
Tries - Attelwell, Murphy, Edwards, Davies, Harriott x 2
Cons - Brennand x 2 


Monday 22nd July - Auckland to Rotorua

We met at the school for 8.30 and said our goodbyes to new friends made through the billeting opportunity. The coach took us back into the centre of Auckland where the squad got the chance to climb to the summit of the Sky Tower, Aucklands highest building. The weather was kind and the views breath taking.

We then moved back to the coach and experienced a coach tour of the city where our driver provided excellent commentary. We visited Mount Eden, Aucklands highest point, Eden Park, the home of the All Blacks aswell as the harbour and the marina where preparations for the start of the Yachting competition, The America’s Cup, were well under way. 

A beautifully scenic drive then took us to the home of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbitts, Matamata and neighbouring Hobbitton. Following a lunch stop, we continued on our journey arriving at Rotorua to the Thermal spa and Mud baths around 5pm.

The evening brought a traditional Hangi dinner and an insight into the culture of the Maori people. Our Chief, Dan Pembroke, was invited to accept the welcome and we were then educated on the intricacies of the culture. The evening finished with a Haka in which our boys proved they definitely have lots to learn in this field! The evening continued with a trip to the Polynesian thermal spa, providing a relaxing end to a busy day.


Tuesday 23rd July - Rotorua to Palmerston North

A 7.30a, training session greeted the boys but the strong smell of sulphur emanating from Lake Rotorua contrasted with the incredible beauty of the sunrise over the water. We trained in the morning sun with dew still on the ground. It was a fair assessment that for the first 30 minutes of the session, many boys were still in bed.

The session slowly improved before we jogged back for breakfast and then checked out of our hotel to head to the Skyline and Luge. Two hours of fun passed by all too quickly as we raced our way down the race track as many times as we could. With a quick pit stop for food we then embarked upon the 4 hour drive to meet our friends at Palmerston North.

The scenery along the way was again eye catching and it’s safe to say that staff and pupils alike are being treated to the beauty of New Zealand. For the first part of the journey, the weather played its  part. A brief stop on the shores of lake Taupo, with views of mount Ruapeheu was a particular highlight before we continued on the final leg to Palmerston North. Late in the journey, the weather turned, with a distinct drop in temperature, some menacing clouds and finally the mother of all rain storms. Just like home! 

We arrived at Palmerston North around 6pm and the boys were quickly billeted ahead of tomorrow’s fixtures.


Wednesday 24th July - Palmerston North

The boys woke with their billets and arrived at the outstanding Massey University Institute of Sport, a facility built initially for use of the All Black team. The weather was again superb and the pitches in great condition. We had our first opportunity to face the Haka, a great experience for all involved.

The 2nd XV opened proceedings against a young developmental side, whilst the 1st team produced a crazy performance which continues the history of Campion vs. Palmerston come backs  (see separate match reports). Following the matches we enjoyed the hospitality provided by the Palmerston staff and families before boarding our coach for the 2 hour journey to Wellington.

After arriving at our latest hotel, aptly named “The Brentwood”, the boys enjoyed a squad dinner and headed for an early night ahead of tomorrow’s move to Queenstown.


Match: Campion 2nd XV vs. Palmerston North Development XV

At the state of the art Massey University facility, the 2nd team attempted to continue the improvements made in the previous game in Auckland. We were greeted with the challenge of our first Haka from a young development side that we hope to see in Essex in 2020.

Palmerston showed their undoubted potential with a promising first 10 minutes in which they dominated possession and territory, asking many questions of the Campion defence. It was very much against the run of play that Campion stole the initiative, Watts latching onto a handling error, to kick and chase 80 meters before good field position was converted into points with Will Cross barging over for 5-0.

The try provided a devastating momentum shift, with Reece Harriott continuing his try scoring form, touching down soon after in the left corner. Luke Pembroke was making a nuisance of himself as usual, he continued his excellent tour, scoring soon after, before Alex Brennand produced an individual effort to stretch the score to 24-0 in the blink of an eye. 

Half time came and went, allowing some replacement legs to be introduced and it was the fresh Fahy who scored with his first touch, punching his frame through a shattered defence. Campion had their foot on the throats of the young opponent, but it was to Palmerston's credit that they kept going and soon had a try to reward their commendable commitment. Campions weary legs were struggling to keep up with their younger opponent, stretched left to right, Palmerston strung enough phases together to bundle over for 29-5.

The game then plateaued with both sides making errors, both sides cancelling each other out. It was pleasing that the final word was with one of Campions unsung heroes. John Fennessey has struggled with injury on this trip but climbed off the bench to dive over with the final play to leave the final score 36-5.

Team - Chuter, Davies, Cross, Pembroke, Milne, Austin, Brooks, Chaplin, Brennand, Watts, Noonan, Mullen, Daly, Harriott, Banks
Rep - Lucas, Lanfear, Green, Attelwell, Roberts, Mukacha, Coll’s, Fahy, Fennessey
Tries - Cross, Harriott, Pembroke, Brennand, Fahy and Fennessey
Cons - Brennan x 2, Banks 1 


Match: Campion 1st XV vs. Palmerston North

Our friends from Palmerston are currently in the middle of a busy schedule and as such fielded a Senior Development XV bringing together a number of players from their top 3 sides. It’s a sign of the quality of our opponent that despite the mixed nature of the team, they hit the ground running and blew Campion away in a scintillating 20 minute spell that saw Campion 26-0 down and seemingly out of site.

In our most recent meeting, back in 2017, Palmerston had made a similar start, leading 24-0 before losing to an inspired comeback from Campion, final score 28-27. Lightning was about to strike twice, this time as far away from the mud of Wingletye lane as you could wish to be! Campion woke from their punch drunk slumber to hit back with a scrambled try from the excellent Harrison Ledbitter, forcing over another impressive driving maul. 26-5, still out of sight!

Momentum was about to change as a Palmerston fumble was kicked through from Tiernan allowing Earing to dive on a loose ball for 26-10. A consolation? Late in the first half with our tails up, a third try was manufactured; a loose ball popped out of a Palmerston ruck, ruthlessly collected by the prolific Tom Walker, who hacked and ran, diving over for 26-17 following the George conversion. Pride somewhat restored....

Strong words (from captain for the day Tiernan) at half time sought to maintain the initiative and restore the pride. Campion got straight back to work in the second half. Further Palmerston possession was coughed up under pressure from the Campion defence. This time Grannell fly-hacked and Ugoh profited from his tireless chase, taking the score to 26-24. Surely not?  

Palmerston now seemed helpless to stem the tide, moments later the powerful Ledbitter stormed over for Campion to take a 29-26 lead. Lightning bolt starting to flicker... With their opponents now out for the count, Redmond finished another successful driving maul from another expertly constructed catch and drive. 34-26. Thunder claps heard in the background.

The tide was impossible to stem, Campion flooding forward, willing to attack from almost anywhere. George kicked a vital penalty taking us more than a score in front before hitting a pin point cross field kick to allow Rory Gray to scramble over in the right corner for a 42-26 lead. Weather warnings being issued. An incredible spell of unanswered points was concluded late in day when the effervescent Tiernan broke powerfully down the left. Seemingly always on hand, James Underwood collected the pop to run in unopposed, George kicking the extras for a final score of 49-26.

Palmerston have a huge fixture on Saturday and we wish their 1st XV all the luck in the world. We also look forward to seeing our friends when they visit us again in 2020.

Team - Murphy, Redmond, Gray, Jowers, Hogan O’Neill, Ledbitter, Burnett, Tiernan, Grannell, George, Walker, Ugoh, Earing, Collings-Edwards, Underwood
Rep - Lanfear
Tries - Ledbitter x 2, Earing, Walker, Ugoh, Redmond, Gray, Underwood
Cons - George x 3
Pens - George x 1


Thursday 25th July - Queenstown

We awoke in Wellington and made the short journey to the airport where we said goodbye to Julian, our driver for the last few days. The short flight to Queenstown took in some amazing scenery on the descent, many boys missing it in favour of fourth winks! The temperature has taken a drastic drop but the surroundings more than make up for this.

We boarded a steam boat to take us around the lake where the rugged and mountainous landscape provided a postcard-like picture opportunity. Boys then got the chance to explore the town and prepare for tomorrow’s visit to the Remarkables.

Dinner was eaten at 7.30 before the squad hit the sack ahead of tomorrow’s all to common early start!


Friday 26th July

The 6.00am alarm clocked proved a difficult one and the brisk temperatures that greeted us as we boarded the coach was all too English! The 30 minute journey up into the Remarkable’s mountains started in darkness and ended with a beautiful sunrise peeping over the mountain tops.

A smooth ski fitting saw the boys in place for thier day of ski lessons. The instructors helped everyone make good progress in what proved to be a stunning backdrop. An amazing day was then had as all 45 boys took to the slopes and enjoyed 5 hours of tuition in this truly remarkable place. 

Once the skiing was complete we headed back to the hotel to freshen up before making our way into Queenstown for a squad dinner. We commandeered a pizza restaurant and the boys enjoyed the food on offer. Full stomachs accompanied us on the way back to the hotel as we got our heads down ahead of another action packed day tommorow.


Saturday 27th July

Queenstown is providing an excellent venue for our mid tour break. Following on from yesterday’s adventures in the mountains, today saw us hit the water with a jet boat ride followed by white water rafting. The squad spilt into two for the day. The ‘unlucky’ group had a 7.30 breakfast and a chilly morning out on the rafts. Thank goodness for wet suits! The ‘lucky’ group had the luxury of a lie in before a training session at the foot of the Remarkable’s. Once training was done we headed into town to switch with the first group. Temperatures has improved by now and the rafting was carried out in a tropical 7 degrees!

The rafting took us down approx 8km of river, surrounded by stunning scenery. 4 boats of 8 boys split and saw us tackle four stretches of rapids. Boys took the opportunity to board other rafts and take out a teacher, Mr McDarby being a particular target!

Once both groups were back on dry land we took the opportunity to pack before heading out for a dinner during which we watched the New Zealand vs. South Africa test.


Sunday 28th July

We woke for the final time in Queenstown and headed for training where we were lucky enough to borrow the pitch at nearby Wakatipu High school. The coach arrived at 11 to pick us up and make the next journey on this trip, this time South to Invacargill to meet our next opponents, Southlands.

Southland's is a new opponent but we were made to feel very welcome as boys were billeted ahead of tomorrow’s games.


Monday 29th July

The boys and their billets returned to Southland’s having been afforded the morning off school. Arriving at 11am, stories of horse riding and hunting trickled in, the boys clearly having enjoyed the evenings offerings.

Game day required a return to focus and two detailed warm ups were completed before two outstanding fixtures took place against our hosts. (See separate match reports) The after match presentations took place in the school hall, with the honours board looming over us, showing the names of 21 All Blacks produced by our new friends.

Fed and watered, the boys left for the final night of billeting before we depart for the 9 hour journey to Christchurch.


Match: Campion 1st XV vs. SHSB 1st XV

Game day 5 drew us against a full strength Southland’s team who were gearing up for the knockout stages of their national competition. Campion refused to be used as a warm up taking the game to SHSB, producing a phenomenal physical effort against the snout mould opponents.

The pitch was wet and the home side cheered on by a crowd in-excess of 200. It was Southland’s who made the early inroads, attacking with incredible pitch and ferocity at the break down. Campion clung on against this impressive start, defending well as unit. Inevitably the home side opened the scoring after a spell of 20 phases led to a try under the posts.

It was frustrating to them concede another try for 14-0 when a missed kicked for touch invited further pressure. A fumble in our 22 led to a scrum which gave the powerful 8 enough space to pick from the base of the scrum and charge over for try number 2. A penalty under the posts stretched the deficit to 17-0.

Slow starts and brave comebacks have been a theme of the tour and it seemed likely to happen again as Campion began to grow into the game. A scintillating try was finished by Tiernan following great work from Ugoh and Underwood, leaving the red hat of Tiernan to charge under the posts for 17-7. 

The 2nd half continued on similar fashion as Campion defended stoically and offered occasional threats in attack. With 12 minutes to go, a game changing moment occurred leaving Campion crippled. Alex Ugoh collected the balm just inside his own half and made what seemed like a try scoring break. As the jet burners were ignited, the referees whistle blew loud, stopping Ugoh’s unopposed run to the line to penalise earlier foul play. A harsh sin bin followed, leaving us 7 points short and playing the final minutes 1 man down. This was to prove a step too far and what may have become a 3 point game ended with SHSB’s punishing the uneven numbers, scoring the final try for 24-7.

It was a cruel ending to a brave effort against one of the South islands strongest teams.

TeamLedbitter, Redmond, Gray, Hogan O’Neill, Jowers, Pembroke, Burnett, Tiernan, Grannell, George, Valentini, Walker, Ugoh, Earing, Underwood
Reps - Bolton
Tries - Tiernan
Cons - George


Match: Campion 2nd XV vs. SHSB 2nd XV

All though on the other side of the world, Southland’s fields felt like home, the winter weather providing a soft pitch made for an attritional dog fight. The 2nd XV starting line up was shuffled again, with injuries mounting up, it was Noonan who led his side into battle, and immediately onto the front foot, stringing numerous phases together in the opening moments. Whilst the possession stats favoured Campion, the home defence dealt with our threat, shutting out all attacking moves in what was to prove a frustrating first half.

The side produced commendable effort, enthusiasm and pride in the shirt, but were made to pay for a lack of ruthlessness when a slip in midfield led to a missed tackle and a break away try down the right flank. At 7-0 down Campion would need to convert their possession into points.

The game began to evolve into a forward orientated battle as the under foot conditions became Wingletye Lane-like, making life difficult for any of our speed demons. More pressure was exerted, led by Green and Chaplin. Agonisingly we again failed to get over the line and inevitably, our clinical opponents gobbled up the next chance, another missed tackle allowing a simple chance to be converted, leaving us 12-0 down at half time.

Half time discussions were positive and led by the players, the opinion being that we were still in the game. It was devastating to then concede with the opening play of the 2nd half, leaving us 17-0 down and chasing a miracle. The crowd had now swelled and finally Campion got some points on the board with one of the 2019 tours magical moments.

Camped in the SHSB’s 22, Campions attack was again asking questions. The forwards were grinding their way up the field, when, against all advice, Brennand went off piste, throwing a 15m horror pass to the isolated Muckacha. In what seemed to happen in slow motion, Tendai caught the rogue pass over his shoulder,  stepped his opponent and dived over the line to breath life into the Campion troops.

It kicked started a last ditch effort, as the momentum swung, Austin dived over to drag the score back to 17-12 with 3 minutes to go. It was to prove a step too far, despite the best efforts, SHSB’s defence stood firm; one final crunching tackle bringing the game to an end to the delight of the crowd.

Campion could be proud of their efforts, yet disappointed that our attack faltered too often at the key moments.

Team - Cross, Davies, Murphy,  Pembroke, Green, Chaplin, Lanfear, Mullen, Roberts, Brennand, Noonan, Daly, Harriott, Colls, Banks
Tries - Muckacha, Austin
Cons - Brennand


Tuesday 30th July

A day of travel. We met the boys back at Southland’s around 7.30am in the dark of winters morning. Once aboard the coach we embarked upon the 9 hour journey to Christchurch.

Lots of sleeping, a few presentations, lunch and then some more sleeping before arriving at St Bedes at 5pm where the boys were billeted. Tomorrow will see the final tour game for the tourists and last ever game for the Year 13’s.


Wednesday 31st July

It was some what fitting that the final day of our stay in NZ was greeted with the worst weather of the trip. Heavy rain, strong winds and gale stone made the fixtures vs. St Bede’s decidedly familiar. Both teams arrived on site at 9am before a selection meeting. The weather had meant the 1st XV pitch was unplayable and hasty arrangements were made by our hosts to shuffle pitches.

Two tough games ensued providing the conclusion of 7 years of Campion rugby for half of the tour party. The post match celebrations were loud, before a more sedate post match presentation. Once the formalities were completed, the boys left for one final night with their billets ahead of tomorrows journey to Singapore.


Match: Campion 2nd XV vs. St Bedes

The weather provided difficult conditions for the final game of a gruelling tour. The 2nd XV would be left disappointed following a lack lustre performance leading to a 29-5 defeat. Campion never got going and it was a young St Bede’s side who kept the game simple, kicking with intelligence, chasing with intensity and stretching a more experienced opponent at every corner.

Missed kicks, missed tackles and silly mistakes was the order of the day and St Bede’s were 5-0 up in a heartbeat, touching down in the right corner. A rallying call provided some encouragement as Campions first venture into enemy territory saw Lucas power over to level the scores. It was however a false dawn as the home side punished us at every opportunity, leading 12-5 at half time before stepping on the gas in the 2nd half, running in 4 more unanswered tries.

For Campion, it was a sad end, the pitch filled with Year 13 leavers for the final moments. Unfortunately the result and the weather didn’t get the memo about the romantic ending, Campion well and truly outplayed.

Team - Lucas, Austin, Cross, Pembroke, Green, Milne, Chaplin, Brooks,Roberts, Watts, Noonan, Daly, Muckacha, Colls, Banks
Rep - Attelwell, Tarten, Harriott, Fennessey, Mullen, Edwards
Tries - Lucas  


Match: Campion 1st XV vs. St Bedes

2013 saw the closet of finishes, Campion holding out bravely for a 13-10 victory on the showpiece pitch here at St Bedes. The 2019 vintage were about to out do their 2013 counterparts with a scintillating performance leading to a 31-0 victory.

In keeping with the norm on this trip, it was a slow start in the Christchurch rain. 15 minutes had passed before Joe Hogan O’Neill barrelled over to allow George to kick the conversion for 7-0. The rain continued to fall but it was Campion battering at the door with talisman Tiernan leading the charge for one final time. The year 13s example has been an infectious one, and it was a Year 13 who followed the lead, the impressive Redmond diving over for 14-0.

Tours often provide unsung heroes and if ever the phrase fit, this trip has seen Harry Jowers work tirelessly for little of the plaudits. Today was Harry’s day. He worked hard, carried hard and oversaw an impressive line out which will take some may matching season. It was pleasing for him to finally get his name in the record books, diving over for 21-0.

Bolton and Walker both dived over during a devastating spell of attack, the right flank proving a particularly fruitful area. At 31-0 the game was all but over. The clock was ticking and had there been a sun, it was now setting on a number of Campion school careers. It was to everyone’s delight that second team captain, Ed Noonan, who has waited 7 years to get on the 1st team pitch, finally got the call with 5 minutes to go.

5 minutes provided Noonan with one touch, and it was almost the perfect end as one final attack saw Noonan in with 15 meters to go. It was not to be as the determined home defence managed to halt the progress denying the ultimate poetic ending.

The final whistle blew, the changing rooms exploded and the 2019 rugby tour was over.


Thursday 1st July - Christchurch to Singapore

We left New Zealand and took the 11 hour flight to Singapore arriving at 8pm local time. This evening was the night set aside for the end of tour dinner, and following a squad meal we made our way to the conference lounge to hold the presentation. Mr McDarby opened proceedings with a moments reflection to remember Mr Cervi whose tragic death we had learned about only hours earlier. Mr Friel and Mr Jones reflected on the 2nd XV’s tour before Mr Squire analysed the 1st XV’s trip. Head of Sixth form Mr Pearn spoke emotively about the Year 13 leavers before some of the senior players took their opportunity to thank the staff with an alternative set of awards.

As always, the trip concluded with the award of the Pato Award, the memorial prize given to the tourist who has displayed the best all round qualities, on and off the field. It was fitting that the award was given to Daniel Pembroke for his outstanding contribution to the trip.

Award Winners
2nd XV Most Improved - Liam Daly
2nd XV Coaches Award - Ed Noonan
2nd XV Players Player - Jimmy Lanfear

1st XV Most Improved - Ethan Redmond
1st XV Coaches Award - Joe Hogan O’Neill
1st XV Players Player - Harrison Ledbitter

James Patterson Award - Daniel Pembroke