King’s trip truly un­for­get­table

Macclesfield Express - - MOTORS -

KING’S School rugby play­ers got to the heart of Africa on a rugby tour none of the 52 play­ers will ever for­get.

Ac­com­pa­nied by six staff and a ret­inue of trav­el­ling par­ents, King’s played some of the tough­est rugby schools in South Africa, as well as town­ship sides mak­ing the most of their mea­gre re­sources.

Though they saw the mag­nif­i­cent land­scapes of the Veld, ex­pe­ri­enced the high life of the ci­ties and en­coun­tered in­cred­i­ble wildlife in Kariega game re­serve, the last­ing im­pres­sions were made mak­ing new friends in the town­ships and teach­ing in lo­cal pri­mary schools.

Their first game was in the wilder­ness against a Leop­ards RUFC Dis­trict de­vel­op­ment side, ef­fec­tively a se­lect town­ship side. In a hard bat­tle on rock-hard ground the first XV won 24-7 with the seconds pro­duc­ing a 24-0 vic­tory.

How­ever the true high­lights – as in any great rugby tour – came after the game when their hosts held a braii with some tra­di­tional drum­ming.

The young men do­nated kit and ties to the town­ship lads, many of whom had never sat down and shared a meal with a white man be­fore, as King’s rugby coach Guy Ma­son re­vealed: “That’s in­cred­i­ble, given the last 20 years of change.”

The tour then moved on to tough un­com­pro­mis­ing chal­lenges on the field, play­ing the cream of South African youth rugby.

King’s fielded three sides against Jeppe High School for Boys side, the old­est state school in Jo­han­nes­burg and one of the top 10 schools in South African rugby.

In­deed, the pre­vi­ous week­end had seen their derby clash tele­vised on the South African ver­sion of Sky Sports. King’s came ag­o­nis­ingly close in all three games with the third XV los­ing 12-3, the seconds 22-10 and the first XV los­ing by a sin­gle point 13-12.

Bat­tle weary, they then played Muir Col­lege in Port El­iz­a­beth. How­ever, it was be­ing asked to help in the lo­cal pri­mary schools and work with marginalised chil­dren on lit­er­acy and nu­mer­acy projects that most in­spired the young men.

From there the party moved along the coast to Port Al­fred and then in­land to the Kariega game re­serve.

It was another rare ex­pe­ri­ence with the stu­dents based in lodges see­ing ele­phant, rhino, lion, buf­falo, gi­raffe, ze­bra and hippo on a se­ries of sa­fari drives.

They played their best rugby at Point High School in the idyl­lic set­ting of Mos­sel Bay.

The first XV won 33-17, the sec­ond XV drew 7-7 and the third team won 13-8. They held their awards din­ner in the world-fa­mous wine mak­ing cap­i­tal of Stel­len­bosch.

Next they spent two days in Cape Town and vis­ited the test rugby and cricket grounds at New­lands, and the South Africa Rugby Ex­pe­ri­ence and Mu­seum with a mem­o­rable day trip to Robben Is­land to see Nel­son Man­dela’s prison cell.

In the fi­nal set of fix­tures they were pit­ted against the re­doubtable Paul Roos High School, who put out 26 teams ev­ery week­end.

The sec­ond XV lost 41-13 and, in 70 min­utes of fe­ro­cious rugby at the first XV level, King’s de­fended su­perbly stop­ping the South African mus­cle men cross­ing their line but went down 3 – 0 to a soli­tary suc­cess­ful penalty.

Guy Ma­son added: “The tour was ex­cep­tional and a great ex­pe­ri­ence for boys and staff, both on and off the field.

“Ev­ery­one made mem­o­ries that will last a lifetime.

“The rugby was bru­tal and bruis­ing, but I am ex­tremely proud of the boys and how ex­cep­tion­ally well they con­ducted them­selves.

“We can all be very proud of our fi­nal scores in a land where rugby is almost a re­li­gion.”

●● Johnny Ham­mill makes new friends in a South African pri­mary school

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