Nineteen boys from Staines RFC U16s set off on Thursday 18th April 2019 for an Italian adventure, to take part in the annual Rugby Colorno U16s tournament. For most of the boys it was their first taste of rugby touring and for some, their first time in a foreign country. Luckily they had brought along an able translator in the shape of the club’s former Director of Rugby (and Rugby Colorno Director), Ty Sterry. Added to this were the coaches, parents and Club Chairman, Steve Leach, taking the total party to fifty-three. All this had been possible due to the efforts of all the parents involved in fundraising for the past year, under the lead of Heidi Simper.
On arrival the two parties separated, the parents in one hotel and the boys & coaches in another. Once changed the boys went to the club and found out just how hospitable our hosts were to be. After a short training session the touring party were treated to a meal in the clubhouse, one of many over the weekend. After returning to the hotel the boys eventually went to sleep, ready for the next day.
In order to encourage girls’ rugby the format of the event had changed from previous years. Instead of the boys event being over two days it was now just the one-day with the Girls 7s now on the Friday and the Boys event now being on the Saturday. As a result of potentially being at a loose end Colorno laid on 4 mini buses to take the players to nearby Parma in the morning to have the morning sightseeing, before arranging a joint training session with their U16s in the afternoon. This gave the boys a chance to judge themselves against their potential opposition the next day. Again an example of the excellent hospitality we received.
Breakfast on the morning of the competition was a subdued affair with the boys deep in thought of the day ahead, the mood lifted when they were presented with their personalised tour shirts. Then as a group they set off for the ground. The set up of the day would mean they would to play four 15-minute pool games in one of two leagues. They would then have a fifth and final game against the team that equalled them in the opposite league that would determine where they finished overall in the festival.
The first game was against Villorba, a highly rated regional side and the boys seemed as if they were still at breakfast for this one taking an age to get into the game, by then it was too late and they lost 29-0. Not a great start and with another game straight away against Viadana the omens were not good. Now having woken up Staines decided it was time to put on a display and the boys played probably their best 15 minutes of the season scoring four tries, one of them the highlight of the season (see our social media) to win 24-0. A great display of 15 man rugby by all the boys. In hindsight the worst thing then happened to them, they had an hour’s break ahead of their next game and against the host club. Whether it was the break or underestimating the opposition the boys struggled to repeat their form against Colorno and lost easily 21-0. The last group game was against FTGI Euganei and putting the disappointment of the last game behind them the boys raised themselves to beat them 14-0, putting them into the 5th / 6th place playoff. The final itself against Monferrato was a strange affair with neither side in complete control as they looked for the killer blow. Despite their best efforts Staines slipped a try early on, but were playing themselves back into contention and then it ended. Both sides seemed bemused as they were expecting a longer game, but that was it, they lost 5-0 to finish 6th out of 10 teams. The faces of the boys on the end of game team photo shows just how disappointed they were to lose this. They shouldn’t have been, they were a credit to the club.
At the prize giving Staines RFC U16s presented a personalised tour shirt to the tournament’s organiser Stefano Cantoni, a gesture fully appreciated by all concerned. The shirt was worn later on by his wife Rossana and joined the other Staines shirt presented by the last Staines U16 tourists four years ago.
Having changed into shirt and tie the boys celebrated with another meal supplied by the club before the main event, the Tour Court. All parties were found guilty (obviously) and fines paid.
Returning home safely the next day the boys had enjoyed a huge adventure and brought them closer together as an age group, a hopeful sign ahead of next season’s U17s. A great tour, one the boys will remember for years. A huge thanks to Rugby Colorno and all their staff and players for making us feel welcome and making it such an enjoyable tour.
As for the adults, what goes on tour………..