Collated year 9 and 10 Holland tour diary and photos

Holland Tour diary.

Friday 18th-Monday 21st April 2014.

Day 1:


Arrival at Penllergaer ready for a 7.15am departure. A great start as all are on time. Lloyd Dudley-Jones wins the award as last to arrive. Everyone appears to be in good spirits.

Samer Makahleh sets the fashion with his corn braided hair, while Mr Mason ensures that our opponents will realise we mean business with his ‘skinhead’ cut.

A quick photo opportunity and we depart on time. We could spot some parental tears from the bus-obviously tears of joy at the thought that they would have 3 days peace and quiet.

The squads prepare for an early leave from Penllergaer.


On the bus, Will Griffiths introduced the year 10 squad to the card game ‘Mafia’. This helped the journey to pass more quickly, which was good news because our relief driver didn’t know how to operate the air conditioning. The tour track suit bottoms weren’t designed for these temperatures!!!

We arrive at Reading services in good time at 10 past 10 and have a 30 minute stop.

Six lads arrive back late; Nick Williams, Lloyd Dudley-Jones, Lewis Hyatt, David Carpanini, Joe Whitehorn and Samer Makahleh-bus cleaning beckons for them later on.


At Reading our driver for the weekend, Jeff, takes over. He brings good news-he can fix the air conditioning and bad news-we can expect a 2 hour delay at the tunnel.

We make good time to the M25, but as we drive over it we can see why it’s called ‘Britain’s largest car park’ It looks like the delays start here.

The first major issue is that the boys have ‘ants in their pants’ and are standing up on the bus. In the UK this will lead to a £60 fine. In Europe it can be as much as 2,000 euros. Mr Thomas warns the group.


The traffic delay on the M25 is only short lived and after about 20 minutes it clears and we make good time and arrive in Folkestone at 1.15pm. We stop for half an hour at ‘Stop 24’ the pre tunnel services. The six late arrivals from our first stop stay behind and clean the bus for 5 minutes. KFC and Subway do good business and we

return to the bus by 1.50pm-all are on time.


It’s a 10 minute journey to the tunnel terminus. Jeff books us in and we are able to get on a train that leaves at 3.50pm which is half an hour before our booking so our worries about a delay are unfounded.

We have 50 minutes to wait in the terminus and are on the train by 3.30pm.

Aled Simons, Rhys Baker and Max Treharne make a new friend at the tunnel.

We depart a couple of minutes early and arrive in Calais 25 minutes later. During the journey many of the boys befriend a group of French students in the next carriage-luckily the French students speak good English.

We are off the train by 4.25pm and move our clocks forward an hour. Jeff tells us we have a 2½ to 3 hour journey to the hotel and should be there by 8.30pm.

We make good time as we travel through north eastern France and Belgium and stop for 15 minutes at Gent services. Again the group are well disciplined and all back on time. Jeff tells us we are on target to arrive on time.

We hit traffic at Antwerp that holds us up for half an hour and arrive at the hotel at just before 10.00pm. We check in quickly and on the other side of the road is a Mcdonalds restaurant. It’s like home from home. Cases are left in the rooms and we walk across for tea!!!!!

Check in at the hotel goes seamlessly. Mr Thomas collects the keys and everyone takes their cases to their rooms which look small but comfy.
We agree to meet over at Mcdonalds and it is certainly like we haven’t left Penllergaer. Everyone enjoys a late evening meal. The striking thing is how easily the assistants speak to us in English and deal with our orders.
In Mcdonalds, Jeff tells me that the bus is in a terrible state. Anyone who misbehaves is going to be busy before we leave tomorrow.
Everyone is checked into their room by 11.00pm, which is only 10.00pm in our body clock time and with lots of unused energy, we are a little worried that the lads may be looking ‘for things to do’. However, behaviour is excellent, one or two ‘poke their heads around the door’ but other than that the lads are excellent and the other guests should have been able to have a good night’s sleep.
Day 2:
The boys are told to be in breakfast by 7.30am. Most are on time-a little bleary eyed, but appearing to look forward to today’s challenges.
Rhys Baker and Max Treharne are the last to arrive at 7.45am. Breakfast is continental with scrambled egg and bacon available if you wish. There is plenty to eat, although it’s not to everyone’s taste and a few ask if they can pop to Mcdonalds!!!
Breakfast in the Camponile, Gorinchem.
All are finished by 8.15am. We are to leave at 9.00am so they go back to their rooms to get ready. Three lads who were spotted ‘out and about’ after 11.00pm are detailed for bus cleaning-it won’t be a 5 minute job.
We research for things to do when we return after the game. There is an LC style swimming pool with slides about a 10 minute drive away and next to Mcdonalds there is a Go-Karting/paint balling centre, so we should have things to do.
We leave the hotel at just after 9.00am. It takes us an hour and a quarter to travel to Waterland Rugby Club which is the other side of Amsterdam.
We arrive there at just after 10.20am. Waterland play in the Dutch premier league and the facilities there are very good. They have two fields-one floodlit and plenty of changing room space.
The year 9s are due to kick off at midday and the year 10s at 1.00pm. As the opposition starts to arrive it’s clear that a number of girls will be playing for them. Girls are encouraged to play in Holland, but there aren’t any teams for them to play with so they play with the boys right up to youth level. In the end 4 girls play against our year 9s and 2 against our year 10s.

The Year 9 Gowerton rugby squad:
Back row from left: Mr Gwilym Ayre (coach), Rhys Lewis, Jacob Ireland, Sean Collins, Nathan Davies, Adam Gammon, Elliot Rees, Ieuan Burgess, Cameron Hogan, Ethan Guy, Joe Bright-Key, Rhys Penry, Daniel Sherman.
Front row from left: Dafydd Lewis, Cian Matthews, Will Jones, Rhys Edwards, Max Treharne, Sam Cambriani (capt), Rhys Baker, Aled Simons, Ryan Jones, Sam Nicholson.
As we prepare for the games it’s clear that Tom Ham’s not happy. We decide to initiate ‘Horror Hammy’s Holland Howlers’ Last evening when we arrived at the hotel he was not happy that there was no hotel swimming pool. Then when we got up for breakfast he was disappointed that there were no sausages. We will keep you updated on his concerns.

Waterland Rugby Club: 27 Gowerton year 9: 56.

The year 9 game kicks off on time, but our opponents only have 14 players as they have several players away on holiday. Will Jones volunteers to play for them.
Despite his efforts, we are clearly the dominate team in the early stages and score 7 tries in the first half. Elliot Rees added two conversions and at the break we led 39-0.
Tries were scored by fly half Sam Cambriani after a strong run by No.8 Jacob Ireland. Then centre Elliot Rees sliced through after a good pass by scrum half Max Treharne. A strong run by lock Daniel Sherman set up a position that allowed wing Sam Nicholson to dot down.
Then good work by prop Rhys Penry and hooker Aled Simons put centre Cameron Hogan clear and he sprinted in from 40 metres. A fine jinking run by fly half Cambriani allowed No.8 Ireland to score his second try before good work by prop Cian Matthews set up flanker Adam Gammon.
Finally more good work by Cambriani allowed Rhys Baker to score in the corner.
With the hosts suffering a number of injuries, Joe Bright-key, Sean Collins, Jacob Ireland and Sam Cambriani all volunteered to join Will Jones and ‘guest’ for the home team.
The second half was a much more evenly contested affair with the hosts scoring 5 tries whilst we added another three.
Our tries were scored by fly half Dafydd Lewis, scrum half Max Treharne after good work by prop Ethan Guy and flanker Gammon who scored his second. Elliot Rees added one conversion.
Of the Waterland scores, the most notable one came when Sean Collins ignored a ‘two lady overlap’ to score.
At full time, Will Jones received the man of the match award for his wholehearted display for our opponents which was epitomised by a great cover tackle that denied Joe Bright-key a try as he was diving over.

The year 9 and Waterland rugby club squads.

Waterland Rugby Club: 7 Gowerton year 9: 39.

The year 10 game was a much more competitive affair and was certainly much closer than the final score line suggested.
Gowerton again got off to a great start when a good run by centre Josh O’Connor saw him tackled just short of the line, but fly half Jordan Penhalagan was on hand to pick up and plunge over the line for a try that scrum half Tom Ham converted.

Ewan Brown can’t get past an opponent.
In the 8th minute Gowerton doubled their lead when flanker Ewan Brown tapped a penalty quickly 40 metres out and surged through the defensive line for a try again converted by Ham.
The hosts now dominated the next quarter and deservedly reduced the arrears when scrum half Cedric Livingston crossed for a try that he also converted.
On the stroke of half time, good work by locks Luke Andrews and Rhys Davies allowed centre Josh O’Connor to put wing Nicholas Williams clear and he dived over in the corner to give Gowerton a 19-7 advantage at the break.

Josh O’Connor shows great technique with the ball in two hands.
In the 36th minute a fine catch and drive at a lineout allowed flanker Will Griffiths to score, An incisive run by centre Kieran Charles took play deep into the hosts’ 22 and when the ball emerged, wing Lewis Hyatt was on hand to cross for the visitors’ fifth try.
Gowerton added two further tries in the final minute that did little justice to the efforts of the hosts. Both were started in their own 22. The first was wing Williams’ second and was created by strong running from flanker Griffiths and centre Lloyd Dudley-Jones.
Dudley-Jones scored the final try himself when his pace and elusive running took him past three would be tacklers.
The final whistle followed and Jordan Penhalagan’s strong all round performance earned him the man of the match award.
The year 10 and Waterland rugby club squads.
At the end of the games, the hosts treated us to a fine meal of macaroni cheese.
We watch the first 15 minutes of Waterland’s 1st XV game against the touring Mitcham RFC from London. The hosts were leading 7-0 when we left.
We are back at our hotel by 4.30pm and check on the Swans-they are one down and Mr Lewis is not looking happy. But as I type, Wilfred Bony swoops to equalise and a smile comes over his face.

After an hour off we meet in reception at 6.00pm. Mr Lewis looks even happier. A last gasp penalty by Wilfred Bony has secured the Swans all 3 points.
Messrs Thomas, Ayre and Lewis have spent much of the break doing a pre-visit to A15 karting which is just opposite the hotel. It looks like there is plenty to keep the lads entertained. Go Karting was 15 euros for 12 minutes, Gladiator, Sumo wrestling, bungee football, paintballing and a punch ball competition amongst other things, are all available.
Go karting is the first big draw. 12 boys would compete each time. Nathan Davies was great on the straights but struggled on the bends. I think mum and dad will need to spend a significant amount of time on the Elba car park before they allow him in the car when he’s ready to start driving.
Rhys Penry showed the way, winning two races and was ‘Lewis Hamilton like’ behind the wheel. On the other hand Ryan Jones couldn’t get out of first gear and caused a 12 car tailback-he said he was enjoying the views. Rhys and Ieuan Burgess lapped him three times.
The year 10s also had a race-David Carpanini was the winner, whilst Lewis Hyatt proved that there’s room for ‘Sunday drivers’ on the track with a driving display his dad would have been proud of. Tom Ham was black flagged after 5 laps for driving too fast!!!! After one crash caused by taking his hands off the wheel to wave to Messrs Lewis and Thomas, he was heard to exclaim ‘I hit the barrier so hard, I’m sure I’ve got internal bleeding, Mr Ayre consoled him ‘Don’t worry Tom-where there’s blame there’s a claim’ Mr Thomas can expect a writ for ‘whiplash’ when we return.
In another race, Sam Cambriani and Brandon Job were black flagged after a lap for dangerous driving.
Thankfully mums and dads there were no long term injuries-although we are planning another visit tonight.
Gladiator was another big draw. Individuals took each other on at trying to knock their opponent off a beam. The winner stayed on; Dan Sherman beat Will Jones in the final while in one bout Cian Matthews was knocked off by the wind of the cylinder cushion as it went past.
Bungee football saw the boys put inside a suit attached to ropes that restricted their movements. Dan Sherman, Sam Cambriani, Joe Bright-key and Sean Collins beat Jacob Ireland, Elliot Rees and Cameron Hogan 30-25. You see even in the holiday, numeracy is high on our agenda.
On the punch ball Cameron Hogan top scored with 849. Adam Gammon also impressed with 821. Adam asked Rhys Penry ‘Are you going on the big tour?’ ‘Yes’ said Rhys, ‘Three weeks looking after yourself!!!! It’s not going to happen’ was Adam’s response.
We return to the hotel at 9.30pm. The boys were checked into their rooms by 10.45pm and having had a busy day a quiet night was hoped for and expected.
Day 3:
Breakfast was again at 7.30am. All arrive pretty much on time. I ask the staff if there had been any issues overnight. ‘None at all’ they said, ‘You can be proud of your boys’ It’s good to hear and the boys have certainly responded really positively to all we have asked them to do.
Breakfast is the same as yesterday and we finish and board the coach for departure to the Hilversum tournament at 8.15am.
We travel to Hilversum and arrive just after 9.00am. There are 63 teams taking part on 9 pitches with ages ranging from under 8 up to under 17. In the under 14 tournament, 10 teams are taking part and they are split into two groups of 5.
In the under 15 tournament, 16 teams are taking part and they are split into 4 groups of 4.
Our first game is for the under 14s at 10am and whilst we are waiting we see Max Harris. Dunvant RFC are here and are taking part in the under 16 competition.

Tournament match reports

Under 14 tournament:
There were 10 teams taking part which were divided into two groups of five teams. We were grouped with Noord-West combinate, Hertford RFC ‘A’, the hosts Hilversum RFC and Old Albanians RFC ‘B’. Games were 15 a side and 10 minutes each way.

Gowerton: 43 Noord-West Combinate: 5.

The first game was against a team which was a combination of 6 clubs from the area. It was a comfortable win for the team and we scored 7 tries to one in reply. We led 22-0 at half time with Elliot Rees, Sam Nicholson, Daniel Sherman and Sam Cambriani all scoring. Elliot Rees added one conversion and Aled Simons (2), Ryan Hughes, Adam Gammon, Nathan Davies, Cian Matthews, Elliot Rees and Jacob Ireland were all credited with assists.
Three second half tries were scored by Sean Collins (2) and Sam Cambriani. Ethan Guy, Rhys Lewis and Joe Bright-key provided assists. Elliot converted all 3.
Noord-west replied with a try of there own and Max Treharne was man of the match.

Elliot Rees passes to Sean Collins.
Joe Bright-Key bursts clear against Noord-West.

Gowerton: 5 Hertford RFC: 26.

The second game against Hertford RFC ‘A’ was a much tougher affair. Hertford were physically stronger and also possessed some pacy and strong running backs. However, we took the lead with a great try by Sean Collins who sprinted clear from his own half after good work by Sam Cambriani created the space for him.
Hertford replied with 4 tries. Two came before half time and were the result of long distance attacks. Although our defence repelled them on several occasions the handling and offloading of our opponents was top quality and allowed them to score.
They added two more second half tries and converted three of the tries for a deserved win. Sean Collins was man of the match.

Gowerton: 40 Hilversum RFC: 0

The team returned to winning ways with a six try victory over the hosts. Hilversum play in the Dutch premier league and were champions this year for the fifth time in seven years. The facility we were playing at was tremendous with two floodlit rugby pitches and they had converted the surrounding football and 4G surfaces to rugby fields to give nine playing areas.
In the game Sean Collins scored 4 tries, Jacob Ireland and Sam Cambriani added one apiece. Elliot Rees kicked 5 conversions.
Assists were provided by Ieuan Burgess, Dafydd Lewis, Rhys Baker, Rhys Edwards, Cameron Hogan, Rhys Penry and Will Jones.
Daniel Sherman was man of the match.
The squad’s final game was due to be against Old Albanians ‘B’ but with them having incurred a number of injuries they weren’t able to field a team.
That meant that we were credited with 3rd place in the tournament having been the best 2nd place team in the two groups.
Under 15 tournament:
There were 16 teams taking part which were divided into four groups of four teams. We were grouped with Westcliff RFC, Pulborough RFC , and Vlaanderen select. Games were again 15 a side and 10 minutes each way.
Our first game was against Westcliff RFC from Essex. Our opponents had the stronger scrum and some powerful runners, but we had the more skilful ball handlers. In the first half we dominated territory with Josh O’Connor, Kieran Charles, Jordan Penhalagan, Will Griffiths and Rhys Davies all looking dangerous with the ball in hand. At half time there was no score. However, in the second half a 40 metre run by Lloyd Dudley-Jones allowed him to open the scoring and Rhys Davies added a second try before the final whistle.
Lloyd Dudley-Jones was man of the match.

Gowerton: 5 Pulborough RFC: 0

After only having had a 20 minute break we were into a second game. Pulborough RFC were a little weaker at forward than our first opponents but had some dangerous runners behind. Again the game was scoreless at the break. We were well served by Joe Whitehorn, Ben Brown, David Carpanini, Joe Morris, Jamie Jones, Ewan Brown and Lukas Kelly up front, Samer Makahleh, Nicky Williams, Brandon Job and Lewis Hyatt all defended strongly behind.
The crucial score came early in the second half when Tom Ham tapped a penalty quickly and Rhys Davies powered over.
We pressed for another score, but Pulborough’s defence held firm and at full time we had a narrow but deserved victory. Man of the match was Will Griffiths.

Gowerton: 17 Vlaanderen select: 7

Our final group match was against a select team from the Flanders region consisting of the best players from seven clubs. One of the parents told me that they had spent the previous weekend at Llandovery College on a WRU sponsored course. Any young players in northern Europe born in Wales or with Welsh parents or grandparents were invited to attend as the WRU attempted to make sure that anyone with Welsh qualifications would ‘not escape the net’.
We raced to a 17 point advantage before half time with tries by Tom Ham after an assist from Will Griffiths. Lloyd Dudley-Jones scored another excellent individual try from inside his own half and then Will Griffiths added a third on the stroke of half time. Tom Ham added one conversion.
Vlaanderen scored a converted try of their own in the second half but at full time we had won the group.
Man of the match was Tom Ham.
The 4 group winners were seeded on points difference and we were seeded 4th to play Medway RFC from Rochester in Kent in the 3rd/4th play off.

Gowerton: 0 Medway RFC: 10

Tiredness and injuries were now very much a factor. We only had 14 fit players and Jacob Ireland (yr 9) started on the wing. Will Griffiths dislocated his finger in the first half and was replaced by Rhys Davies who was carrying a knock himself. Kieran Charles was unwell at half time and replaced by Will Jones (yr 9). Nevertheless, the two teams were evenly matched and the game was decided by a powerful run from Medway’s centre that resulted in a converted try. They added a second half penalty that confirmed them in third place whilst we settled for a creditable and well deserved fourth place.
Ewan Brown was awarded a well merited man of the match.
After the tournament, the party return to the hotel.
We decide that it’s best for Will Griffiths to go to hospital. His finger is clearly dislocated and may be fractured as well. An early examination is better than waiting until we return.
We check in at the hospital at just after 5.00pm and we are called within two minutes-a lot different to a visit to casualty at home.
We are spoken to by a receptionist, triage nurse, a nurse who gives painkillers, a student doctor and the on call doctor. All have excellent English and communication is not a problem.
After an initial X-ray the doctor confirms that although Will’s finger appears straight it is still dislocated and he replaces it. There is a crunch as he does so and the swelling is immediately reduced and Will has much more movement in it. Another X-ray is taken and it’s confirmed that the finger is back in place and thankfully that there is no fracture, which is good news.
Will is discharged at just after 8.30pm. Treatment has taken longer than normal due to a number of emergencies that came in while we are there.
We call for a taxi that takes 45 minutes to arrive and travel back to our hotel which is 80 kms away. We are back by 10.15pm and desperate for something to eat. Our healthy eating programme continues with a visit to Mcdonalds.
The rest of the party were disappointed on their return to the hotel to find that A15 karting was closed as it was Sunday and with Jeff the coach driver needing a rest before our early departure next morning (5.30am) we have to stay around the hotel. Tom Ham organises a ‘Dominoes’ delivery-the order costs 250 euros, others visit Mcdonalds.
The rest of the evening is spent either watching TV-many English channels are available or playing ‘mob’ around the hotel.
The groups are in their rooms by 11.00pm.
Day 4:
An early morning call. We are up at 5.00pm and due to depart by 5.30am. Most are on time, there are a few stragglers, but we are on the road by 5.45am. The hotel has provided us with sandwiches, crisps and a drink as we are too early for breakfast. It is much appreciated. The hotel has been comfortable and welcoming and the staff have been very accommodating.
Our ferry is timed to leave at 11.30am and we have to check in by 10.30am. Jeff tells us that the holiday traffic will be a problem, hence our early departure.
We make good time and the holiday traffic is only notable for its absence. We are able to have a 25 minute stop at 7.30am and arrive in Calais by 9.30am. The good news is that Jeff is able to get us on an earlier ferry and we sail at 10.45am.
The ferry departs on time. It is a sunny and calm day and we enjoy a great crossing which takes an hour and a half and we dock in Dover by 11.15am (UK time)
We drive to Reading services where we are to meet our relief driver who is to take over from Jeff. We arrive in Reading by 3.10pm and have a 30 minute break. We say goodbye and thanks to Jeff and depart at 3.40pm. Messages are sent ahead of our expected arrival in Park Road at 5.30pm. We make good time and arrive just after 5.30pm.

The lads say their thanks to Mr Thomas and Mr Ayre for their efforts in organising the tour. It has been a great success both on and off the field and the players have responded positively to Mr Thomas’s message to put the group first and their own needs second.


The experiences for the students will be positive as they go forward in the future both as rugby players and as young men with an awareness of the needs of others.


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