Our First Matches

I stir from my slumbers and look at my watch. Yikes, it’s 7.25am and I hadn’t had an early morning call again. No time for a shower, brush my teeth and down to breakfast by 7.45am. I’m greeted by a very weary chorus of ‘Happy birthday’.


A quick tour of the troops confirms that weariness is the prevailing feeling. I think that jet lag has set in.


Breakfast is the same as yesterday. I decide to have only one omelette but make up for it by having two plates of fruit salad-it’s very refreshing.


We decide it’s best to allow the students time to relax rather than to organise something as a group. At the 9am briefing we tell them they can organise their own activities either inside the hotel or in its surroundings. They can’t go out on their own, but must be in a minimum of pairs. If they wish to go further afield we recommend they go and return by taxi.


The boys are to meet back at 3.30pm and the girls at 5.30pm  ready to travel to the matches. As the under 16s are playing first at 5pm, we ask for volunteers to travel to the hockey game to make up numbers there as they don’t ‘bully off’ until 7pm. Declan Duckworth, Jack Soproniuk, Aled Simons, Rhys Edwards and  all said they were prepared to help. It’s great that they are prepared to ‘give it a go’ for the team.


One of the staff is to stay on duty in reception and check them in or out.


Before we let them go, it’s a big day for Joe Whitehorn his 17th birthday, and we give him a resounding chorus of ‘Happy birthday’.


I take the first duty slot and most of the group are venturing out, mainly to the shopping malls that are within walking distance. Mr Long and Mr Lewis are a bit more adventurous and head for the harbour. Soon after most leave it starts to rain heavily which may mean they get wet now, but may be good news if it reduces the temperatures and humidity for the matches later.


As people return to the hotel, most have spent time shopping. Ben Brown had spent about $500 on shoes, a hat and sunglasses. Lloyd Dudley-Jones had spent $200 on shoes and two pairs of shorts. It looks like those back home can expect some nice presents on our return.


The boys assemble for their fixtures at 4.00pm. We are playing against the Singapore cricket club and there is a function in the club after the game. They have a very strict dress code, so despite the heat we have to wear our No.1s.

As we prepare to leave Sean Collins comes to me and says, “I have a problem sir, I haven’t got black trousers.”

“Why not Sean?”

“I didn’t realise we had to bring them.”

Mr Thomas, having lost so much weight, says that Sean can wear his, he has a spare blue pair he will wear.

“I haven’t got a white shirt either,”

“Why not Sean?”

“I left it at home.”

We find Sean a spare white shirt.

I haven’t got a tie either,”

“Why not Sean?”

“I didn’t realise we had to bring it.”

Our patience is wearing a little thin by now, but we find Sean a tie.


We are playing the Singapore Cricket Club Academy under 16s at 5pm and under 18s at 6pm. The fact that they are out of season means that the games are to be played at their second ground. It is located in the wealthier area of Singapore and is surrounded by what little remains of the rainforest. It is a fantastic setting for a game, as you will be able to see from the videos. We were told “If you kick the ball into the trees, don’t bother to go and get it back, you don’t know what could be in there”-the trouble was they didn’t tell us that until after the game. Thankfully we managed to avoid being bitten by a King Cobra.


The girls are playing their games at 7pm. When the coach arrives to collect the boys, things seem pretty disorganised for the girls. They are playing at different venues about 40 minutes drive apart. The netball team are playing Nee Ann Polytechnic which is a sports Academy for 17-19 year olds and the hockey team are playing at Sengkang hockey fields against the local club- after the game some of whom, tell our girls they are 30 years old.


The hockey team only have 7 including Ehsan, so the plan is to send 4 boys over after the first half of the under 16 rugby game to make up numbers. Both the girls teams are leaving the hotel at 6pm.


The boys travel to their venue, but don’t arrive until ten to five. Our guide doesn’t know where the ground is!!


Anyway, once there, we immediately see that things we take for granted back home are not in place here. The changing rooms are about the size of a small shed-you certainly can’t fit 15 players in there, never mind replacements and a second team.


The under 16s organise a rota and change quickly. The under 18s have a bit more time and change ‘al fresco’. It’s not cold, but the humidity and the wet ground from a day’s heavy rain makes changing uncomfortable.


Initially, the fact that things are difficult is hard to come to terms with, but that’s what touring is about-unusual situations will constantly arise and how you deal with them determines how much you will gain from the tour.


The team are about to go out when we notice one player hasn’t got his school socks-“Where are they Sean?”, “I forgot them”. No wonder Sean’s case was under the 23kg limit at the airport-there was nothing in it!! We have 2 pairs of socks that were brought to give as man of the match awards to our opponents. We give Sean a pair.


We walk down to the pitch-the setting is fantastic, but the heavy rain meant that the surface was carrying a lot of water and quite muddy in places making handling quite difficult.



SCC Academy U16s: 12 Gowerton U16s: 39

SCC Academy U18s: 0 Gowerton U18s: 22


Match reports will appear elsewhere. Video is below.


I was really pleased with the attitude of many of the players. Notably in the under 16 game Sam Nicholson and Aled Simons who when replaced at half time volunteered to go to help the hockey team. They were soaked from head to toe and faced with a 40 minute drive to the hockey venue. We dry them off the best we can and then the coach taking the girls picks them up.


In the under 18 rugby game the SCC coach Olivier Rey came over and said they were short of a 12 and a 15. Have we got anyone they could lend? Our replacements included Tom Ham and Lewis Hyatt who volunteered without having to be asked. At half time Sam Williams and captain Tom Northey swapped over with them. Well done all of those lads-particularly as they gave their all for whichever team they were playing. In fact, Lewis Hyatt made a tackle on Ethan Harris that saved what looked to be a certain try as Ethan drove towards the line.


After the game we have to shower and change before going to the SCC for the reception. There were 3 indoor showers, but most opted for being ‘hosed down’ outside with cold water. It’s not a sight you normally expect to see after a game, but the lads get on with it without a murmur of complaint.


We board our coach and head for the SCC. It is a very impressive building with a long history and tradition. You are not allowed to use your phones inside-what will we do for the next hour!!! Membership is by invitation only.


We are treated to chicken and egg curry and rice. I really enjoyed it, but a lot of the lads weren’t too keen-“a bit too spicy.” said Milo Fleming.


I nip out for two minutes to see how England are doing in the test. It’s lunch and they have had a good start and are 99 for 1.


We have a major problem with our kit that has to be clean to enter Australia. Sam at the SCC organises ‘express’ laundry. It will be returned by 11am tomorrow. The only problem is the cost $350.


We have speeches and make presentations which were followed by a first for the school-a ‘boat race’ challenge. The best 3 players from each team had to drink a half pint of fruit juice and lemonade topped with a slice of lemon, the juice of which had to be squeezed into their eye on completion of their drink.
Our teams were under 16: Joe Bright, Cameron Lewis and JacK Soproniuk.
Under 18:Olly Smith, Callum Carson and Joe Whitehorn. Both races were a close run thing, but needless to say, our lads did the school proud and won both races.


After a group photo taken on the balcony, we depart at 9.15pm and return to the hotel to catch up with the girls and to spend some time in the pool.


The netball girls were already back and Miss Rushworth was full of praise for their efforts. Despite our representations to the travel company that we were relatively weak, we were matched against an Academy side who had 30 players all older than our girls. They had been told we were a strong team. Thankfully, they had a real empathy for our girls and did all they could to help us, even offering to give us some of their players. To their credit, our girls declined that offer, determined to do their best and despite the oppressive heat, went down to a creditable 21-6 defeat.


The hockey girls had not started until 7.45pm and so did not return until after 10pm. Again our opponents were excellent hosts and gave us two of their players to make us up to 11. We played really well and were only denied a notable victory by a late equaliser.


Netball and hockey match reports are on another page.


Mr Long had videoed both rugby games and immediately afterwards, jumped into a taxi to go to the netball at the Nee Ann Polytechnic. However, the Academy complex is so large and had such a diverse range of sports taking place that he spent an hour walking from venue to venue before eventually finding them-just after full time!!


Never mind, the girls really appreciated him making the effort.


Once all are back at the hotel, a meeting at 11pm confirms the arrangements for tomorrow. While we wait for everyone to arrive, I check on the cricket. Cook has just been dismissed but at 215 for 2 we are in a strong position.


Tomorrow will be a busy day.  A half day sightseeing tour, followed by a team meal in a Chinese restaurant. The afternoon is free before a coach collects us to take us to the airport for our overnight flight to Melbourne.


Mr Thomas completes the day with the Donkey of the Day vote. As usual there is no shortage of contenders.


Lloyd Dudley-Jones was nominated for  breaking Max Treharne’s watch. Max said it wouldn’t be his fault if he was late from now.


Sam Hughes was nominated for suggesting that the opposition’s mascot, which was clearly a cat, was a special type of Singapore animal.


Sean Collins was nominated for leaving room in his case for extra presents for his mum by leaving most of his tour clothing at home. Mr Thomas added that he had to leave the field after 10 minutes to go to the toilet, he went back on but when Mr Thomas asked him ‘to have a rest’ at half time, he had a tantrum.


At the meal in the SCC Joe Bright asked “What’s the difference between chicken on the bone and chicken off the bone?”


Ryan Hughes had lost a flip flop, purchased a new pair and then found the one that had been lost.


Sam Hughes got 6 votes, Lloyd Dudley-Jones also received one, but the other 54, including Sean’s himself went to Sean.


We retire to our rooms and I update things with an eye on the cricket. Root has scored a hundred and we are 314 for 4 at the close which is 1.30am here. I walk around the corridors and a number of lads are out and about between rooms-not causing any problems or noise, but our late return had meant a lot had ordered food from outside that arrived after midnight, that coupled to the change in the day and the adrenalin that was still flowing from the games meant that they weren’t tired.


I’m not impressed, tell them to get to their rooms and if they don’t sleep now, their bodies are not going to adjust and we’ll have problems further down the line.


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Comments ( 7 )
  1. Kelly collins

    I’m loving this blog…………unbelievable Sean!!!!!

  2. Pauline

    Great to see the photos, where can I find the match reports on the hockey/netball games please?

  3. john and shirley heatley

    The blogs are brilliant, fantastic humour,it is obvious that you are all having an awesome time.
    Enjoy Australia.

  4. Charlo

    Fantastic blog and great to watch the games! Really looks like trip of a lifetime. Well done to all teams and staff. Enjoy, and make magic memories. Brilliant xx

  5. Liz Dudley-Jones

    Fantastic to see the videos ! Well done on the superb updates ! Liz & Bob xx

  6. Julie Jones

    Fantastic start to the tour, well played everyone.

  7. Olivia Andrews

    Really enjoying the blogs and videos. I will be looking forward to hearing about how the hosting goes. Keep up the good work and thank you 🙂

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