14 Aug 2019
Day 14/15 & Tour Recap - By JRL

Day 14/15 and a tour recap

We finished our tour in the spectacular setting of Queenstown. This ski-resort like town on the banks of Lake Wakatipu was a real life postcard, with spectacular scenery wherever you looked. Unfortunately snow put an end to our hopes of doing the luge but we still all got to experience to Gondola, as well as sampling the delights of a delicious Fergburger. This was the perfect way to wind down after a busy tour, giving players and coaches alike an opportunity to rest and relax in the most beautiful surroundings.

And so comes to an end another spectacular Whitgift Rugby Tour. Covering the length of the most amazing country, playing some sumptuous rugby, experiencing some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, bonding as friends and team mates; this was what touring is all about. We'll start with the rugby - Across 2 squads we played 10 games, winning 9, losing 1(sorry Mr Webb!) and improving with every match. Partnerships were forged, skills honed and experience gained. We were extremely lucky to have sessions with some incredible guest coaches, from Tony Hanks of the Auckland Blues, to Scott McLeod, the All Blacks Defence coach. We all learnt so much from these sessions, coaches included! We faced off against some ferocious hakas and experienced a different style of play, one that is synonymous with the All Blacks - Play from anywhere! This was first and foremost a rugby tour and we are proud to say that the 51 boys on tour made this a tremendous success with their effort and application on the pitch.

Off the pitch, we all got to experience some incredible moments. Going up the Auckland Sky Tower, visiting Eden Park, Power Boating, swimming in cold waters, witnessing some of the most dramatic scenery in the world, partaking in some unusual activities with billets, eating the best pies and burgers in the world, being received with a Hongi, climbing the 2nd steepest street in the world and crossing the choppy, sea-sick inducing waters between the North and South islands, just to name a few. I know that I speak for everyone when I say that these are experiences that will stick with us forever. The boys behaved impeccably throughout and were a credit to themselves and the school, with coaches receiving countless compliments from people across the country, from opposition coaches, to waitresses, shop owners and host families. They certainly did Whitgift proud. I would encourage the boys to stay in touch with their Billets. Rugby has a funny way of bringing people together, and these relationships can and will open doors in the future, whether at home or across the world in New Zealand.

It's fitting that I will end this blog post in the same way as I ended my first blog post, what seems like a lifetime ago. Thank you to everyone that made our time in New Zealand so special. To our host schools, who welcomed us with open arms each time. The Hongi and Haka at South Otago High School will live with us forever, but the hospitality we received all over the country, from staff and host families was humbling and was really what made our tour the success that it was. Thank you to you the parents, who without your financial support, the boys would not have been lucky enough to have the tour of a lifetime. Same goes for our sponsors, who financially opened doors and made the tour possible. Thank you to the boys, who threw themselves whole heartedly into to this tour. They sung on the bus with vigour, played their hearts out on the pitch and approached every day with an open-mind. Thank you to the coaches, who I know that I personally learnt so much from. Their company was exceptional, their care for the boys unwavering and their expertise inspiring. Barring a few shocking jokes, I know that the boys loved Mr Webb's stand up routines on the bus and the coaches really made the boys' trip to New Zealand so special. Lastly a huge thank you to Mr Wilkins, who led the tour with aplomb. Everything was organised to a T and without him, none of this could have happened. From all of us, thank you Wilko.

Sorry that the blog wasn't always up to date, turns out that teenage boys struggle with deadlines (I guess some things never change!). I hope it gave you some insight into what we were getting up to in New Zealand. The boys were a credit to themselves, us as coaches, their families, the school and the UK itself. What a tour! Roll on South Africa...

Mr Lewis