Departure is getting closer and mums all across Wakehurst have already started packing spare undies and sun screen for their U14 boys who are about to embark on the trip of their life. This years tour is for 12 nights and 13 days during the September 2011 school holidays.
This trip is a great opportunity to for our U14 players to experience three games of Rugby against various Fijian local teams, and is an opportunity for the players and their families to experience the cultural and tourist attractions that Fiji has to offer.
Our itinerary is always packed with stuff to do:
23rd Sept – Depart Wakehurst Rugby clubhouse via coach transfer to Sydney International airport. Depart Sydney for Nadi Fiji. Arrive Nadi for coach transfer to the Crows Nest Resort
24th Sept – Training in the morning. 1st game versus Methodist Mission at Lawaqua Oval before Challenge Cup main game at Sigatoka town
25th Sept – Morning depart for church at Kina’s village. Lovo lunch. Afternoon free at the Crows Nest.
26th Sept – A day in the Sigatoka Hills visiting a local village including a
cave tour / bili bili ride / lunch in the village / dancing with the locals
27th Sept – Morning training and afternoon game versus Sigatoga District School.
28th Sept – Day at Natadola Beach- mini Olympics. Lunch at Yatule Resort
29th Sept – Early rise for bus to Cautata for lunch and afternoon game (This year Caututa is the home village of one of our U15 Club members)
30th Sept – Golf and other activities (plus lunch) at Fijian Resort.
1st Oct – Morning light training, Afternoon Main game at Sigatoka.
2nd Oct – Robinson Caruso Island cruise.
3rd Oct – Morning shopping at Sigatoka town, Evening Farewell Dinner (big night) with Players, staff and Kina family.
4th Oct – Morning recovery session for the oldies. Sigatoka shopping. Afternoon free and packing.
5th Oct – Depart Crows Nest Resort via coach transfer To Nadi International Airport. Depart Nadi for Sydney. Arrive Sydney – own arrangements for travel home
The team will be staying at the Crows Nest Resort located about 15 minutes from the town of Sigatoka and 50 minutes from the Airport. Based on our experience from previous tours, mums, siblings and other relatives are encouraged not to stay in the same resort as the players and their dads. However we are happy to provide assistance with your accommodation arrangements.
While everyone is encouraged to attend the tour games and be involved in the tour social activities, the boys generally enjoy the time to be with their Dads and their mates.
This annual Wakehurst trip has become a Club ritual event each year and many players attending these trips in their early years have gone on to Rugby stardom in their later years. Wakehurst Rugby Club is proud to be a part of this annual tour and we will continue as a Club to provide the best opportunities for our players as individuals, and as a team.
A fine and sunny day in Sydney saw the Wakehurst boys depart on the first leg of their Fiji adventure. Also dragged along on this adventure were some parents and the young coach for the boys Bladsey. While many of the boys experienced their first flight on the upper deck of a 747, they also enjoyed the company of the lovely Air Pacific air hostesses.
Arriving in Fiji minus one luggage bag, the boys and a couple of parents hopped onto a bus for an eventful ride to the Crows Nest Resort. The remaining parents on the second bus had a more sedate ride to the hotel and despite leaving 30 minutes after the first bus managed to arrive at least 60 minutes before the boys.
Driving along the road to the resort, the boys, acting against their instructions, stuck their heads out of a window. Not wishing to start a bushfire on their first day in Fiji, they asked “should there be sparks coming from the wheel of the trailer?” On hearing this question, the driver decided to stop and investigate.
Despite the tyre, or rather what remained of it, being flat on one side only, a tyre was changed. Note that it was 1 tyre, not 2 tyres as a short ride later told us would have been a more sensible approach. Maybe the fact that the bus only carried 1 spare tyre had something to do with that decision.
A short 10 minute ride after changing the first tyre, the boys stuck their heads out of the window and asked “why do we smell rubber burning?” Tyre number 2 now was flat on 1 side and another change was needed.
With no spare tyre, changing the second flat tyre was not an option. A parent, with the initials PH, suggested to the boys that a short 10 minute run was all that was required to reach the resort. With language that will not be repeated here (ageist, not swearing), another option was rapidly sought. A second bus arrived very quickly and the boys eventually made it to the resort.
Hot and tired, a quick swim was necessary prior to dinner. With numerous boys in the pool, it became an interesting exercise when diving to avoid a teammate. Daniel concentrated so much on missing his teammates that he forgot that it was also necessary to avoid the pool.
Medico Scott was rapidly into action. He was even prepared to forgo watching his beloved Manly bet the Broncos so that he could attend to Daniel. A quick repair job and Daniel showed that he wasn’t going to let a number of stitches stop him swimming (only kidding Kerrie).
Today was the first full day in Fiji for the Wakehurst touring party, their first full day in paradise and what a busy day it was?
A morning trip to Sigatoka for shopping and sightseeing was enjoyed by all. It was on this trip that the boys met Kina and his extended family. Ace and other family members showed the boys around the town and the various markets.
Medico Scott was busy again with the pool proving to be the nemesis. Two bleeding noses and a damaged toe formed today’s injury list. Medico Scott’s tissue supply was severely depleted; while some were used on the boys, the majority went consoling coach Bladsey who wonders if he will have enough fit boys to field a team. All of this in the short period between lunch and training – imagine what it will be like when they have a complete day in the pool.
The afternoon found the boys on the training paddock with some support from Ace and medico Scott. A rugby related activity and the boys fit enough to participate thoroughly enjoyed it.
Another pool related activity followed but this time there were no injuries. Maybe a pool on four legs is safer than a pool without legs. Dinner followed and then the fire walking story from Ace. An eagerly awaited NRL game finished the day; the dads were able to find out who Manly will play next week in the Grand Final
It was just another day in paradise.
Morning was spent attending a church service at the New Methodist Church in Kina’s village. An experience the boys are sure to remember.
After the service, there was time for a quick trip to the beach. Ace had the boys training hard with many beach sprints on the soft and hard sand even if they did not know it. Swimming was an essential with lagoon waters encouraging some of the dads into the surf.
After the surf, it was back to Kina’s village for lunch. A delicious village banquet of local foods was enjoyed by all.
It was lucky however that all the dads were able to enjoy their lunch. A party of 4 dads were abandoned by the group and left in mortal danger at the beach; the rest of the touring party left on their bus to return to Kina’s village for lunch. This intrepid group of 4, deserted at a remote beach far from civilisation, had to trek past the local villages (full of cannibals) and run (with a taxi leading the way) back to Kina’s village to enjoy their lunch.
A free afternoon back at the Crows Nest Resort with medico Scott finally not in demand filled the remainder of the day. This was a good outcome as it is believed that he was led astray to a local bar. It was at this bar that Mike Flynn relived his adolescence and drank wine from a flagon for the first time since his teenage years.
Dinner and the night-time activities followed. During dinner, Ace told the boys some stories of fire walkers and other Fijian traditions. Catching toads and racing them entertained the boys for the reminder of the night.
A hottish day with little wind.
The boys had an easy morning with a light run to get the legs and bodies moving. Could possibly have been more use to the dads who were very slow and quiet. Some of the boys believed that this could have been due to Dads participating in the Kava Ceremony organised for the boys the previous night. Others, however, believe that it was the Dads not following Bladsie’s strict curfew.
A light lunch and onto the team bus. A short ride into Sigatoka and the boys arrived at Lawaqwa Sports Ground. Also alighting the bus at the ground was the boys own “Cheer Squad” of local Fijians who doubled as Water Girls. I am afraid the Mikes (Gullick and Penn) will not suffice next year after seeing how the boys performed when the Water Girls were passing them the water.
The game started. An exciting game best described by Bladesie’s report. An excited but tired group of boys returned to the resort. While tired they were still capable of enjoying a night of Fijian Dancing performed by people from a local village. The boys in the front row certainly enjoyed the close view of a spear. Tom Church displayed magnificent dexterity in jumping into the third row numerous times when a spear was pointed at him; some would say thrust at him but we are not that generous here.
The successful day drew to a conclusion with the catching of some cane toads while the dads discussed the game and numerous other topics over a quiet ale or a red.
COACHS REPORT – GAME 1
Wakehurst 14’s versus Sigatoka Methodist Mission at Lawaqwa Park
Wakehurst 29 – Sigatoka 22
The first ten minutes one could feel Wakehurst had a slight advantage but that was soon dispelled and the Mission team scored the first try. We soon followed when Nick Ball doubled up from the opposite wing to score a perfect try which was converted from wide out by Tom C.
The Mission bounced back with another try which was converted. They then crossed our line again and we were chasing hard to try and keep in the game. The mission speed was finding us short out wide. Our forwards were playing well but the heat was taking its toll on the big fellows who showed real character.
On cam Jess. Try !!! – the crowd were on their feet. We were closing the gap and it was taking time for the boys to realise that we need to control the game here.
On cam the second reserve – a 12 year old Fijian – Elijah, son of Junior Kina. He certainly assisted with his strength.
We moved down field toward the end of the second half and a rolling maul gave Cameron his try.
That wasn’t the end of the Mission. They came back again and took the lead. Oh Oh, it looked like we were to miss our first game. Then along came Jess, blasting through the pack and putting his second try on the board. Tom C converted three tries and a penalty to set us one up.
Bladsie fairly happy but a bit of work to be done!
Go forward and bring on Game 2.
Paradise finally failed us and instead of our beautiful blue skies, our clear oceans, we had a day of rain. We ventured out into this terrible weather only to experience the bus ride of our lives – better than the bus ride of the first day because everybody got to experience it. Piling onto the bus at the resort, little did we know what lay in front us, We thought that we were going on a leisurely 2 hour drive into the interior for a visit into the caves; what we experienced on the way there was an experience for the boys.
We think that the bus driver must have had an argument with his wife that morning and so proceeded to take his aggression out on everybody else. On the way, we are not sure which he got closer to, the school bus in front (the boys were shaking hands with the local kids on their way to school) or the edge of the drop (a good 20 metre vertical drop). Either one, was too close by general agreement.
Onto the local village and a welcome drink with them. We were also able to see the food being prepared for lunch after our return from the caves.
A shortish walk later and we crossed the Sigatoka River on billi-billis. That was an experience for the boys. A longer shortish walk followed and we were at the cave entrance. An interesting tour followed where the cultural and geological significance of the caves to the Fijian people was explained to the touring party.
A return to the village by the same path and the boys were ready for lunch. Chicken, pork, fish, tomato chutney, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, plus numerous other dishes meant everybody was well satisfied.
The magnificent lunch time meal showed on the trip home. Many a boy and dad enjoyed watching the insides of their eyelids on the way home. Evening found everybody reinvigorated. An evening of looking at tour photos followed before an early evening. Even Bladsie found a bed in the pm.
Luke thought it was an early game – he was having the runs early in the morning and even the night before. Didn’t leave him too well for the game. This meant some serious strategising to fill the gap left by Luke.
Bladsie decided to have a light training run to fill the morning. The pool looked too inviting and past experience meant the team could be down more players than Luke.
Eventually the boys boarded their bus. A stop along the way and the team spirit lifted immediately. Ace visits the local school and three young Fijians board the bus – given a choice of school or Rugby, the option of Rugby won out plus a touring shirt to the headmaster.
The game started. An exciting game best described in the Coach’s Report
The successful day drew to a conclusion with the toad races, fireworks and Mark Haskard’s birthday.
Wakehurst U14’s v Sigatoka District School
Wakehurst 31 – Sigatoka 10
Look out super coaches, the Blues are coming! Two up and one to go – giddy up –giddy up. 31 to 10 Wakehurst absolutely fabulous!! It would bring tears to a glass eye!!
The start – Sigatoka – try 10 minutess into the first half. There was an aura of oh oh! or something like that. We missed Bluey through a leaky valve or something but fortunately we acquired 3 flying Fijians as replacements.
After the first try we coordinated well and got close to the opposition line and Daniel, playing at break-away, was able to crash over the line – Tom converted. Then we received a penalty which was slotted through the posts to be up 10 – 5.
We regrouped to engineer quality ball to then see Matthew P – absolute gazelle – out back to outpsce the opposition with courage and conviction to place another 5 pointer which was converted by Tom C.
Stoic play from Reilly, gutsy defence from Brandon and brilliant play from Duba led to Nick B skirting through the field to put another 5 points on the board. Much of the lead up was done by the book ends – Marcus and Jacob who displayed courage and conviction throughout the match in stinking humid conditions. Marcus was seen to drink a litre of water after the game without taking the top off the bottle.
Cody Abrahams was giving his share in defence that kept us going forward, and tight Rugby is paramount in Fiji.
The last try was a Jess gem. 60 metres solo with his brother , Nick, matching him all the way, screaming for a pass. No way, Nick had already scored; this was Jess’ turn! 5 points.
Final bell – go forward – notable performances – Huck Flynn, Cam Lowe, Jacob, and the flying Fijians!! Plus Mark Haskard who’s early morning massage set the scene for his 50th birthday celebration.
Mums – your boys are heros.
A day at the beach.
Who can forget the excitement of the Olympics when they were held in Sydney?
Well the boys and the dads participated in their own Olympics – an Olympics organised and run Fiji style by Kina and his family.The physical activities were enjoyed by all including those who were battling their over-active stomachs. A number of dads were suffering from stomachs attempting their best gymnastic leaps and tumbles. Mark Haskard and Phil Hurditch were the two main sufferers – and their suffering had nothing to do with Mark’s big 5 0 celebration.
All competitions involved “nuts” with “nuts” being thrown, passed, and anything else that can be done with nuts. And before anyone gets the wrong idea, the “nuts” were coconuts and not those that an unnamed boy demonstrated to his teammates at his dash round the pool.
Four teams competed in these Olympics
- Team Fiji – a team that went for the home vote;
- Team Bula – a team who were slow to grab the home vote;
- Team Kiwi – Churchie and other NZ outcasts; and
- Team Pedo – not sure if they were Team Pedersen or Team Paedophile but suitably named anyway.
In between swimming, lunch, and other activities, a number of events were held with the winner being a tie. All teams should have finished equal – however, some claimed that the true order was Blue, Red, Yellow and Green. Your intrepid journalist can’t match colour with team name – so a degree of uncertainty must exist about the final outcome.
And so back onto the bus to return to the resort. But in true Olympic style, Michael Flynn could not resist setting one final record – he was asleep before the bus made the first corner (about 100metres) and then showed fantastic muscular neck strength by not head butting the seat in front despite the number of attempts. Two magnificent efforts and two excellent records set in the one event.
Dinner at the resort followed by an early night.
Day 8 and the intrepid touring party have been in Fiji for a full week, surviving successfully 2 games, abandonment of some dads and a trailer that light up the night sky.
For the first time, there are no photos today – the photographer and his assistant took the day off to relax. The report, also, is short as the Journalist has decided to follow tradition and has had too many drinks to write a long-winded report.
Today was a shopping day for the boys – a light day after many long and tiring days; definitely needed as only half the team were sufficiently fit to participate. Fiji belly is rife in the touring party with Angus, Marcus, Keiren, Tom C, and Travis all feeling the effects together with a number of the dads.
On the return from the shopping trip, Tom and Kerry Nugent were collected from their romantic trip to a Fijian island – Tom to rejoin the touring party and Kerrie to join the wags on tour.
Night time was spent with dancing and music.
Day 9 and the Final Game Day had arrived.
An easy morning training run was followed by a pool session and no injuries in the pool this time. Any injuries and Bladsie would have cried – too many boys with stomach ailments. Changes in food, exhaustion, all contributing to their problems.
Angus and Travis were unable to start the game with all the other boys doing their best under difficult conditions.
The game started. An exciting game best described by Bladsie’s report.
A second game followed Wakehurst’s game with the majority of the touring party staying to watch the U16 game. Some, who shall remain unnamed (I will not name Mike Flynn as ring-leader), chose to return not the resort that the boys were staying at but rather the up-market resort that some the wags (the dad’s wags that is) were staying at. What they were visiting that resort for is best left unstated – some claim it was for a warm shower but we all know better.
Dinner and a quiet night followed.
Wakehurst U14’s v Fiji U14
15 – 24
Wakehurst last game, Scott Collins’ birthday, which is better?
This time it turned out to be Scott’s birthday. We were “cracked” by a better team 24 – 15.They planted the first 5 pointer after 7 minutes. One felt that we were a little intimidated by, not necessarily a better or bigger team but rather, a more aggressive and determined team. In a word “they played better football”, and as normal, chanced their hand.
No excuses, but quite a few of our boys are in pretty poor condition with exhaust pipe problems! Thankfully we were able to draw on Fijian friends who assisted greatly. They were a few injuries that added to our plight.
Jess Ball helped with a “gutsey” try but he too fell to injury. Changes done, we continued as were bombarded time and time again. Stoic defence held the scores at a claimable distance. Squeaky went down for an eight count – off the field and a Fijian replacement; Cody smashed – off the field but absolute courage saw him rejoin and with determination!!
Jacob had his best game.
Reilly, Reilly, reilly – can’t say it enough! Absolute cracker – even went to hooker and tops again. His intensity, passion, and drive saw things never before seen from Reilly.
Other certainly put in the effort but it just did not breach the gap. Jess again showed soccer could be his second game.
We can mention them all but running out of ink and need a “bitter”.
Not all lost, we won the Sigatola Athletics District Relay.
No excuse for the lost.
Day 10 and a relaxing day at Robinson Crusoe Island. Grand Final Day also – Manly v New Zealand. Who could ask for more?
The order of the day was snorkelling, donuts, kayaking, and numerous other beach activities.
Massages were the order of the day for the dads and for Churchie although the Masseur commented that all she massaged with Churchie were his bones.
Angus Penn won the award for the best donut off although there was strong competition from Keiren, Churchie, and Marcus.
Blaxland (aka Phil Hurditch), Lawson (aka James Ball) and Wentworth (aka Brandon Snowsill) went exploring and did a Matthew Flinders in circumnavigating the island. They also could not find Robert Louis Stevenson.
Back to the Crows Nest Resort in time to see the game on the big screen, courtesy of Michael Gullick. There was time also for the wags to decorate the room in Manly colours.
A Manly win – how good is that!!
And a fantastic finish to another wonderful in the Paradise of Fiji