The U14 team have had a good start to their fundraising efforts for this year’s Fiji tour having commenced before the 2013 season had ended.
The U14 team will be travelling to Fiji in September-October 2014 and playing a number of games whilst participating in a culture exchange.
The boys have been busy cooking many a sausage at Bunnings BBQ’s at Belrose and Balgowlah and are working up to their big event on 24 May being the trivia night.
The wait was finally over, after twelve months of fundraising, and the boys were excited to be boarding their flight to Fiji. As they were picked up at 3AM from the clubhouse some chose not to go to sleep the night before and were soon found to be cuddled up and resting on one another’s shoulders snoring on the flight over! The afternoon was spent settling into their accommodation at the Crows Nest, enjoying a swim and cracking a few coconuts!
A leisurely start to the day saw the boys rise later than usual and enjoy a big breakfast before heading into Sigatoka – the town of rugby – for a spot of shopping. The popular past-time for the morning was having their hair braided and buying some fashionable items to wear whilst on tour. They’re all having fun and are a great team of boys to be away with.
Day Three was spent on Robinson Crusoe Island where the boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves. From climbing and jumping off giant inflatable water obstacles to trying their hand at fishing with Woody where Angus ‘Phil’ Silvester caught the biggest trevally we’ve seen only to be taken by an even bigger shark!! Harrison ‘Houdini’ Caruso came third in the crab race and Tom ‘Shrek’ Campbell showed us how to crack open a cocconut. Coach Denny was getting the dance moves going, feeling very loose after disappearing for a well-deserved massage.
First game of rugby today and all boys came off unscathed. With a gentle breeze blowing, it wasn’t too hot for the boys out on the field or the spectators.
Prior to the game the team visited Sigatoka District School which was the most humbling experience had by us all where the school children sang to us with a sound that blew our breaths away; it was incredible. We all had goose bumps and I think a few eyes were welling up with the sweet sound that lifted the school roof – the children were all so excited to meet the team.
Down at the school oval it was Wakehurst challenging Sigatoka District School which resulted in a fabulous game of rugby enjoyed by everyone; no-one cared about the score and cheers went up from both sides every time someone scored regardless who it was but the biggest cheer from our team was when Tom Jacobson went over the line to score a try. Brett would be so proud of not only Tom but how the entire team played today and how they have been representing the club whilst on tour.
Jamie, Tom and Hayden got in there and played hard and our U14s are very pleased to have the older – and stronger – boys in the team when they saw the size of some of the opposition.
A minute’s silence, and prayer by Kina, in respect of Brett was had prior to the game. The ref was one of Kina’s sons who also played first grade for the Canberra Raiders; the touch judge had a long stick with a bit of ribbon and if you have to know the score it was 33-31. We lost by a conversion.
The afternoon was such an experience with the entire school watching the game, singing to us at the end of the match which we reciprocated with a mediocre version of Waltzing Mathilda and every single child from the school shaking our boys hands; it was an incredibly moving moment for which none of the boys will forget.
The team spent the evening drinking Kava (yes, all the boys!), having toad races, crab races and a lot of laughs. They’re all having a fabulous time!
What began as a well organised day resulted in our bus having mechanical problems before we even left, which in hindsight was probably just as well because it was the brakes that failed and considering the steep hills we travelled down today we’re pleased we found out before we left!
Team and supporters travelled up into the hills of Sigatoka to view the caves and the fun part of the journey was having to travel, Fiji style, in the back of a truck with the boys hanging off the back. Not a seat belt in sight!
We travelled through the salad bowl of Fiji where the majority of their produce comes from – vegetables, bananas, papaya, tobacco, etc. Boys didn’t really take this in at all!
Another visit to a school in the local village in the hills where, once again, we witnessed the most magnificent singing and enjoyed a BBQ feast cooked by Kina’s extended family at the school. We were trying to encourage the local boys to eat up big so that we could slow them down for the game of touch we suddenly discovered the boys were playing.
The boys thought, ‘no worries, it’s a friendly run in the park with bare feet’; but not to be as the local village and the entire school community arrived from down in the hills on foot, in trucks and in buses to come and watch a bunch of Aussies playing touch with their local side. Our boys were wearing board shorts, their tour shirts and heaven knows what on their feet (too many rocks and stones to go bare feet) whilst the opposition came out in their jerseys and footy boots – we were gone before we started!! It was to be ‘Aus tag’ where the boys wore coloured strips of Hawaiian style material from their shorts but after half time and many tries scored against us we discovered our boys ‘ties’ were way too long and the opposition knew how to clip their material in without being pulled out. Some of the local girls who were the Wakehurst cheer squad changed into shorts at half time and came and joined our boys’ side; we ended up having so many reserves and many tries later the game started evening up until Hayden went to do a touch down only to be stopped by a cow! Andy is seen shirtless as he took the shirt off his back to give to a very keen local boy who wanted to play with our side.
X-Box is not in the boys vocabulary as they haven’t missed it at all!
A day full of experiences and memories that photos and words cannot do the day justice as it was another one of those days that you had to be there to believe it!
A slower pace for the touring side today with the team spending the day at Natadola Beach – one of the top ten beaches in the world – for some snorkeling, swimming, massages and beach mini Olympics led by Kina.
Curfew tonight was set at 9pm for all boys in preparation for their big game tomorrow.
After a good night’s sleep the boys were raring to go and win a game of rugby! The game was at Lawaqa Oval in Sigatoka town at a very impressive ground with a grandstand that could hold thousands. Our team of supporters from the Crows Nest Resort were there to support us along with Kina, his family and extended church family; we were all ready winning with the number of supporters in favour of us.
The heat was intense, so it was lucky that we brought an esky filled with ice and water. Frank and Ben Caruso did an excellent job as water boys and runners.
Soco (Kina’s son) was the referee and we had a couple of locals filling in as reserves – Bill and Knox with Bill scoring a try.
Anthony Denny was the first try scorer, followed by Hayden Gullick with a runaway try, then Oliver Williams pushing over the line from a penalty whilst Patrick Hore got very close only to be held up. The entire team performed well and played like a well-oiled machine despite the humidity.
The Crows Nest cook and staff were there to feed our boys Indian/Fijian delights and provide them with cool drinks, after the game, which was extremely welcome. We’d love to bring them back to Australia as part of the team entourage!
The team walked into Sigatoka town for what we thought was more food but they came back with more braids in their hair and a couple boys were very proud of their henna tattoos!
They all now own and wear their unofficial team Fiji Bitter singlets that when asked why, they couldn’t really answer with anything other than ‘it’s part of the brotherhood!’.
The afternoon was spent watching the local side, Nadroga, playing the challengers from Suva – Tailevu. Poor Tailevu had a long bus ride home after about a 45-nil thrashing so it was exciting for us as supporters of Nadroga!
The ground announcer welcomed the Wakehurst team a couple of times and then called down some volunteers at half time and wow I’ve never seen the boys run so fast from the top of the grandstand than Anthony, Jordan, Jamie, Patrick Hore, Tom Jacobson and Angus Fewtrell! The boys had to see who could blow up the balloon the fastest, then jump on it and pop it to the roar and laughter of the crowd. The boys were good sports.
We were all pretty hot, dusty, thirsty and tired by the time we made it back to the Crows Nest where a lot of us jumped straight in the pool.
A bonfire on the beach was a nice way to end the day, but of course boys being boys a couple them were looking for anything to put in the fire and so it was to be roasted coconut!
Sunday morning and it was off to church; regardless if you’re religious or not it was the most amazing venue on the beachfront with lots of singing, dancing and wise words delivered from Kina which made the boys sit up and take note. The boys played in the water and along the sand with all the village children and Kina’s grandchildren, it was such a happy scene with much laughing and children doing what they do all around the world, communicating through actions and taking advantage of their environment, making their own fun, splashing and finding crabs in the sand, it was a wonderful scene. This showed our boys that the simple things in life give so much pleasure where electronic games were not mentioned or to be seen.
Kina’s family and village cooked the most magnificent lovo with pork, chicken, vegetables and really were quite the hosts; we certainly haven’t starved on this trip.
No-one wanted to leave this peace of paradise and our wonderful hosts; there were a lot of eyes welling up with just the thought of possibly not seeing these people again as they really have touched everyone’s hearts.
Ace (Kina’s brother) came on the bus ride home sitting in the middle of the very back seat leading the sing-a-long and making up a Wakehurst Rugby song as we travelled along. It was a very entertaining trip back to the Crows Nest.
The afternoon was spent swimming in the pool and believe it or not saw a few boys have an afternoon sleep!
Today was a day of pleasure where a few went on a fishing tour – only a ‘few’ due to the early departure time of 4:30AM! – with the remainder of the touring party deciding to go on the jet boat ride.
Those who went on the fishing trip were picked up by a driver who had flashing green lights around his windows and a boom box belting out very loud thumping music through quiet sleeping villages oblivious to the possibility of waking anyone! There were two boats and whilst one boat had better luck than the other we all got to enjoy some coral trout and barracuda for dinner that night.
Meanwhile those who enjoyed the jet boat ride also had lots of fun, especially afterwards where Jasper (being one of the tallest) was sent into the water with a bamboo stick to measure the depth before they all started jumping, diving and back flipping off the pier into the water – all properly supervised and no-one was injured and that’s all I heard from the boys all afternoon how much fun they had jumping off the pier.
Tonight was our big farewell dinner as we thought it best to keep the last night to a relatively early one to allow for the boys to not be too tired for their 5:30 departure from the hotel in the morning.
Kina, his son Soco and Soco’s wife and their three children came as well as Soco’s nephew Bill who played a couple of games for the boys. We were entertained by traditional Fijian dancers and singers and then we all got up and had a great dance – Ross won for the best dance moves by a white person! We were all up laughing, dancing (not caring what we looked like, or at least us adults didn’t!), and having one fabulous time with our rugby family and Kina’s family whose relationship with the Wakehurst Club has been cemented with new life-long friendships formed and old life-long friendships strengthened.
Ross delivered a moving speech that said everything we are all thinking as to quote Ross, Faith, Family & Friendship has been forged all through the love of rugby and as Andy said that 20% of rugby is on the field whilst 80% is the life-long friendships formed.
Nick Ward, as Captain, spoke and thanked the organisers on behalf of the team and presented Kina with a gift.
Kina had awards for three boys watching both games as well as the touch football and announced as follows:
- Player of the Series – Max Beckerleg
- Runners Up, Player of the Series – Oliver Williams & Anthony Denny
This was chosen purely by Kina (as an ex-Fiji international player and Warringah Rats First Grade Player) presenting them with a kauri shell that I believe they will treasure greatly.
What was to be a day of rest and packing ended up being an impromptu visit to the Fijian Resort where a morning of water sports was enjoyed by all – banana boat rides, viper rides and snorkelling.
The afternoon was spent packing, resting, a bit more shopping and then a wonderful last night with all from the Crows Nest Resort.
Another successful Wakehurst Rugby tour with a fine group of boys representing the club who demonstrated exemplary behaviour throughout the entire tour.
Vinaka Fiji, we had a wonderful time! Up early in the morning for our return flight back to Australia.