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Sunday, 1 December 2019

1st XIII enjoy a short tour to The Isle of Man


King William’s College

Castletown, Isle of Man

29 November - 1 December 2019

The 1st XIII finished the season in fine form with good performances against The Downs, The Elms, Cheltenham, Packwood and Bromsgrove. It was therefore a wonderful end to the season for a 1st XIII squad of seventeen boys to go on Abberley’s seventh visit to King William’s College on the Isle of Man to compete in the Ralston Shield rugby tournament. Unfortunately, two of the squad were recovering from a wrist and a rib injury and so were non-playing squad members. Five other schools took part; King William’s College, Castle Rushen High School, QE2 School on the Isle of Man. Packwood and St John’s on the Hill, Chepstow were the other teams traveling from the main land.

We left on Friday morning for a flight from Birmingham and arrived in time for lunch at King William’s and then spent the afternoon being spoilt by Sam White’s grandmother in her lovely home where the boys played snooker, table tennis and had a swim. King William’s have an old boarding house that they used solely for hosting visiting teams and other visitors to the island but that was out of action this year so we stayed in the Sefton Express hotel opposite the airport which was perfect accommodation for the team. After supper the boys went in to the sports hall for a rugby session before heading back to the hotel for a relax before the tough rugby ahead.  

On Saturday morning after breakfast, we had a bracing walk along the beach. After lunch, the Ralston Shield tournament then began. The format of the tournament was that everyone played each other and then the top two sides played a final match. On Saturday afternoon, we played three matches against Castle Rushen, Packwood and King William’s College. We started well with a dominant display against last year’s tournament winners, Castle Rushen. We then took on our old friends, Packwood and won a very competitive game 4-2. Our final match against King William's was very closely contested and we just lost narrowly 2-3.

After a recovery swim and hot showers, we headed off on the local bus with Packwood and St John’s for an evening in an Italian restaurant, which was great fun.

The weather on Sunday morning was glorious with clear blue skies and the wind of Saturday had gone away. The backdrop of the Irish Sea and the surrounding hills was stunning

Our first game against a depleted QE2 team was rather one sided and we were able to rest several players for the tough final game against the strongest side, St John’s.

Our final match was a great battle. Up until the final play of the first half, we were 0-0 with both teams not giving an inch. Pressure eventually told and St John’s broke free and scored in the corner just on the break. Early in the second half, Oscar suffered a bang to his back and could not continue. This upset the team and when the game restarted we let in a couple of quick tries before galvanising ourselves for a  last mighty effort.

The boys finished with heads held high and bodies a little battered to enjoy watching the final alongside the Packwood boys between St John’s and King William’s.

After the match, we all headed to the dining room for a Christmas lunch and presentation. After hot showers, we walked over to the airport for our flights home.

I was very proud of how the team conducted themselves both on and off the field. Touring is a wonderful aspect of sport and these seventeen boys have been very fortunate to experience such a good short tour at this stage of their sporting lives.

N Richardson

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