..Well actually the tour party flew into New Zealand for the first leg of their fantastic tour, so not Downunder in the proverbial sense, and what an amazing tour these Seafordians are having. We will publish extracts from their blog here in date running order. Scroll down for latest additions to The Tour Blog.
Tour Blog Day 1 & 2
Well, we made it! It has been a long journey but not a single complaint from the tourists. They have powered on through the long and tedious flights and we’ve only lost two mobile phones so far (both recovered quickly).
We made our way through security after leaving many of you at Heathrow, with a couple of fairly rigorous bag checks taking place for those who cooperatively put their liquids into clear plastic bags and then tucked them away in with the rest of their hand luggage. Before we knew it we were boarding the first of the three flights, on this occasion to Dubai. The majority of the tour party were all near the back of the plane so we were able to switch around and ensure everyone had a seat they would be happy in for the coming day ahead. Mr Bird found himself chatting away and entertaining strangers further up the plane.
We were spoiled with excellent food and refreshments throughout the flight and the students enjoyed exploring the on board entertainment.
This 6 hour fight ended in Dubai and we prepared for the main event: Dubai to Melbourne in a 14 hour slogfest, back in the same seats. We loaded up the plane and stowed away our hand luggage, only to hear that there was a technical fault and we were likely to be waiting for 45 minutes. This extended a further two times and I believe we took off around 2 hours later than planned, meaning we really were occupying the plane for a long time. The refreshments flowed again and it felt as though we were fed and watered every couple of hours. Everyone managed to get some sleep on this flight, some more than others. We were quite impressed by how some could just switch off for hours on end.
Fortunately, we still made our connecting flight to Christchurch, thanks to additional fuel and the pilot putting his foot down. This flight seemed like a breeze at 3 hours and 10 minutes. There was barely a moment where we weren’t eating something and before we knew it we had touched down in Christchurch, somewhat disorientated. We headed off for an all you can eat breakfast to set us up for our first proper day of touring. We then took a ride around the town, seeing some of the sites and the lack of them. It was eery to witness the devastation that still haunts this town as a result of the earthquakes. Even though they were exhausted, they all showed interest in the various stops; the Jade/AMI stadium, the ‘cardboard’ cathedral and cathedral square. The city was very quiet and nothing like the vibrant place it had apparently been in the past.
We took the opportunity to loosen up this afternoon. The boys did some touch in Hagley Park. Maxwell Harding had a minor fall over a dog and Patrick Soper tried to catch the ball with his face, but no injuries obtained. The girls went for a run around the outside of the park. Some of the girls cut the route shorter and headed back to the bus, while Miss Bryant and Mrs Hegarty took a small group of four on an unexpected detour, fortunately finding the coach eventually and just in time to head to St Andrew’s School, who had a league rugby match. Although a bit chilly, it was great to see the pace and physicality of some of the local teams.
We were soon on our way to Hanmer Springs. The journey was breath taking. Snow topped mountains and rolling hills surrounded us on the drive and we began to realise just how beautiful this country was. Hanmer Springs has not disappointed at all. A pretty little village that has a ski resort feel to it and is no more than a 5 minute walk to anywhere. We settled into our hotels; Top 10 hotel for most of the boys and Scenic Views for the girls and a handful of the boys. They are very comfortable and well equipped for all that we need. After a short amount of time to unpack the essentials, many of us headed to the thermal spa pools to unwind after what seemed like the longest day ever.
A nice roast dinner awaited us at the five stags restaurant and as of 7pm local time, most of the students have headed back to their rooms and not lasted until the Lion’s test. I think they will be sleeping well tonight, ready for tomorrow events: an early morning run, a training session at Hanmer Springs local recreational facilities and a return trip to the thermal spa pools. We look forward to Miss Teague, Daisy and Izzy joining us tomorrow and the tour reaching its full complement.
The alarms were set for many this morning to embark upon a morning run. 14 happy faces met Miss Bryant and Mrs Hegarty at 8:30am to start the day with a bang. They did very well indeed and covered four and a bit kilometres all before breakfast. We returned to the Five Stags, where we visited last night, for an all you can eat breakfast with so much choice. Cooked breakfast, cereal, toast, pastries, fruit yoghurt and the list goes on. They were all set for the day and our first proper training session of the tour.
The boys worked extremely hard and made use of this time to ease into some contact work in preparation for the first matches on Tuesday. The Hanmer Springs recreational park was the perfect setting. The girls worked hard, getting out on court for the first time in a while for most and focussing on attacking play.
The afternoon was filled with more relaxation in the Hanmer Springs thermal spa pools, which was very much deserved after getting straight into training over the past couple of days. We will be sad to be leaving this facility behind when we depart for our next stop.
A lovely roast beef dinner was on the menu at the Fives Stags and the worn out students were ready for bed soon after. We have been packing up our bags this evening ready for a 10:00am departure back towards Christchurch after another great breakfast tomorrow morning from the Five Stags. Tomorrow we will have another opportunity to train again back in Christchurch before our first fixtures the following day, as well as some time to explore the city a little more.
We are all starting to settle into the tour now, slowly adapting to the time difference. We awoke for an early breakfast, back at the very popular Five Stags restaurant. They have fed us well over the past couple of days while we have stayed in Hanmer Springs. It was really quite damp when we were packing up to leave, but we were pleasantly surprised to be driving away from this and into much sunnier and warmer conditions.
We arrived at our next accommodation, Top 10 Motels in Christchurch, just after 12:00pm and after checking in, headed to the local mall for a some lunch and a chance to look around the shops. So far we have not come across many bargains! We were then able to train again today, both the boys and the girls, at a local school. It was great to have a final opportunity to work on some tactical aspects in preparation for tomorrow’s first matches. Jamie also provided a circuit for the girls to develop their strength and mobility to get them started. Both the boys’ and girls’ squads trained really well and there is definitely an air of determination among them.
There was time for showers before we met to go to ‘Joe’s Garage’ for pizza this evening. Mr Bird and Miss Teague had managed to arrange this earlier in the day. With so many of us invading their small diner, it was great that the pizza just kept coming and all were able to enjoy their pre-match day meal.
Once again the group could not wait to get back to their rooms for a good nights sleep, which we think is a good idea the night before their first big competition.
Tomorrow we will be up early for a big breakfast, before making the drive down to Timaru to see our friends Roncalli College, a destination that we have all been so looking forward to. After the matches we will continue onto Dunedin.
We had an early start this morning, meeting with our bags packed at 7:00am and headed for an all you can eat breakfast to prepare for the first set of matches. We hit the road at around 9:00am towards Timaru. The girls and the senior rugby boys in one bus, as their matches were being played at Roncalli school, with the the year 10 and 11 boys’ match being played at Temuka Rugby Club. The journey took a couple of hours and we were grateful of the warm welcome that we received by the Roncalli staff and students.
The girls were up first and underwent a good warm up in the sports hall. We looked a little apprehensive during the first quarter and errors were made in attack. They seemed a bit quiet on court. They settled more during the 2nd and 3rd quarters and reduced the error rates considerably. So many interceptions were made throughout the match, but our transition into attack was much slower than Roncalli’s, and there were many occasions where we were chasing play a little. Some promising and stylish netball shone through at times, but the score line finished 11-32 in favour of Roncalli.
The junior rugby side provided an excellent example of how to attack space, and finish their opportunities. A strong Roncalli side were put to the sword with 2 tries to Ralph Robson & Jake Parker, as well as Ben Twyford. The outstanding Caelan Stanton was abrasive in the loose. Well played! A great all round performance from the U18 team, lots of players contributed to some great team tries and team defence was secure throughout. A terrific way to start the tour from all, with Charlie Norton setting the tone with a very accomplished performance.
We enjoyed some fantastic hospitality at Roncalli. Students gave speeches from both schools, the sports captains from Roncalli and Izzy Anderson and Elliott Quinton for Seaford, as the captains of netball and rugby. Staff also gave heart felt speeches thanking the pupils, staff and spectators for all that had gone into the day.
We had to depart before we knew it and say goodbye once again to many of our beloved visitors over the past few years. The journey down to Dunedin was long, but some good old fashioned singing certainly helped. Many students and staff took to the mic to entertain their fellow tourists.
We arrived at Burns Lodge by around 8:30pm, for another dinner before yet another early night. The students, along with staff, are again very tired.
Tomorrow is a rest day for all, which will allow time to hopefully visit the Cadburys Chocolate Factory and the Highlanders Rugby Stadium.
Day 6 rest day
Today was a good day… all the usual waking up for breakfast went on before we headed to the Signal Hill, right at the top of Dunedin. The sights were incredible, right across the whole city. We went straight from here and onto the Cadbury World factory tour, which lived up to expectations. We think that most enjoyed the part where they could pour their own liquid chocolate into little pots with all the toppings. Most were feeling quite full of chocolate by the end.
There was a little time to shop and buy lunch in Dunedin again before transferring to Kings’ and Queens’ High Schools for our matches.
The girls’ netball were met with a warm welcome and song from the lovely ladies of Queens’ school. We then took to the court and hugely improved on their performance from the previous game. The passing, ball speed and receiving of the ball was far superior and we were complimented on this in their pre-match speeches. They had a very strong side and were able to beat us on this occasion 16-48. They were such a nice group of girls and their supporters were rooting for us as well and cheering for their own.
The Seaford Hurricanes played in a fantastic location right on the beach in Dunedin. The first half was scrappy, as the side tried to force play, and were tested physically by the opposition. A couple of well worked tries just before half time gave them a 21-10 lead. The opposition scored the first try of the second half but after that they were blown away by expansive attacking rugby and courageous defence. The final score of 47-15 was fully reflective of the efforts from the boys. Player of the match was Ash Goodwin.
Great location for a game of rugby
The Seaford Highlanders match was one which was greatly anticipated. The boys were fired up from the moment they arrived at the ground. Motivated and looking to continue their great form the team started well and were ahead early after some great handling and some strong running lines. This knocked the wind out of the sails of the Kings’ boys and the Seaford boys were able to cement their superiority with another few tries. We ran out 59-5 winners and showed great discipline and mental strength in limiting the opposition to one try. Outstanding performances from all but must mention Edward Hansell and Elliot Quinton who, on the day he turned 18, led the team superbly.
Rugby Pitch at Kings School
The whole of the boys’ touring party are growing in strength and unity and can’t wait to get to Australia to continue this fine run of form.
There was time for some match analysis for the girls before dinner, packing and bed. It has been nice to celebrate several birthdays over the past couple of days. Hugo Truman was 17 yesterday and both Elliott Quinton’s 18th and Archie Mayes 15th today.
Tomorrow we will be departing for Alexandra at 10:00am. The girls have another fixture tomorrow against Dunstan High school to hopefully build on their performance from today’s match.
It was our last night at the Burn’s Lodge in Dunedin, which had been home for three nights. We awoke for breakfast at the accommodation before the girls hopped on one of the coaches and headed straight towards Alexandra.
The boys made their way to the beach next to the pitches that they played at yesterday. They used the opportunity to do some recovery in the sea and stretch out from the activities of the previous day. Not many of the boys managed to go in past their toes though. They also visited Baldwin Street, which is known to be the world’s steepest street. They made their way to the top; some ran it and some walked. They then made the journey to Alexandra in time to watch the girls play.
The girls were up against it today. That was possibly one of the strongest U18 sides we have seen play netball and likely a team who would dominate nationally in the U.K. The girls gave it their all and despite a rather dramatic score line, the girls once again improved upon their performance from yesterday, and their execution of skill was excellent, especially when you consider the standard of players they were up against. It was nice for the girls to have the support of the boys in full attendance and hopefully we can continue to build upon the positives from today’s match in our next against an Australian school on Monday.
We are now within our new accommodation, boys and girls separately on this occasion, and have just had dinner.
Tomorrow is a day of adventurous activities. We will be doing the Shotover jet boat ride in the morning, as well as going up the gondola and doing the luge. Some of the brave will also be throwing themselves off of bridges and ledges throughout the day as well. Thank you for all of the consent forms that we will of course be triple checking before allowing any of these thrilling activities take place!
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