On the 6th October 2017 the boys and girls headed off on tour to England. As our very swish coach pulled up onto the gravel at 10 o’clock it was time to start packing up the bus with all the kit for the weekend! We had goalie bags, kit bags, bag pipes, overnight bags, sleeping bags, snacks, drinks; you name it we had it all but for the kitchen sink! After a long process of getting it all sorted we all piled onto the bus and set off on our adventure at about 11 o’clock. Everyone was in high spirits and excited for the weekend ahead.
We were heading for Austin Friars, but first we had to stop at Annandale services where the children and staff all enjoyed a packed lunch before getting back on the bus to Austin Friars. We arrived there in good time and got ourselves sorted for the matches ahead. Girls headed for the astro turf and the boys for the Rugby fields. The girls were playing 8 aside matches and so India N, our captain, got all the girls warmed up and we had a tactical chat before the match started. I had 2 goalies with me on tour and so they played half a game each and then I had 4 rolling subs. The girls started off very strongly against Austin Friars, with some really strong play from our midfield players, and India N managing to keep the ball wide, the girls were having lots of chances at goal. At half time the score was 2-1 to Austin Friars and although the girls managed to get another goal very early on in the second half, unfortunately Austin Friars flicked two more past us leaving the final score as a 4-2 loss. After the match the girls got their kilts on and went for a delicious match tea which they all thoroughly enjoyed and Isla F was awarded player of the match by Austin Friars.
Meanwhile the boys piped, seemingly as a round slightly bizarrely, onto the pitch to announce the arrival of the Scottish invasion in Cumbria. Sadly Austin Friars were only able to provide one team to face us and so we started the game with the 1st team playing. We improved throughout the half and at the end we were leading 4-1. The 2nd team then took to the field for the second half and up against a 1st team they did struggle a little and conceding a few tries it became important that we started to reintroduce some of the 1st team players. Drip feeding these boys back in and not necessarily in the primary positions meant that all our boys had a run out and chance to experience new positions as well as creating a good competitive game for everyone. We came away with a 9 tries to 6 win and a well deserved man of the match award for Will F. A good win in Cosmo G’s first match since being announced as Captain of Rugby for this year at Ardvreck.
We reconvened back on the bus and had an hour and a half drive to Sedbergh, spirits all high and Harry Potter on the TV, everyone was happy. Arriving at Sedbergh and we were invited straight into supper where there was lovely pizza. After supper the girls went and saw where they were sleeping, and then went into the swimming pool where the Sedbergh girls joined us. It was time for them to bond and get to know each other. After a splash in the pool the girls were invited back to the boarding house where they enjoyed a movie, ‘The Proposal’ and popcorn with some of the Sedbergh girls having a very enjoyable evening. The boys at the same time went to suss out the opposition for the next day. A mass game of touch ensued alongside a game of football which the Ardvreck boys very proudly won!
The next morning the girls were woken my Miss Macleod and Miss Beamish bright and early at 7am to be in breakfast for 7.30am. After sorting themselves out we had a cooked breakfast and met up with the boys. Miss Beamish and Miss Macleod then took the girls out for a 2 mile walk before coming back to some delicious hot chocolate!! 11.20am it was now time to go and get warmed up for our match which was starting at 12pm. The Sedbergh girls looked strong but this did not phase our ‘Ard’ girlies. With some inspirational quotes from Mrs Arbuthnott, inspirational texts from Mrs Kinge and inspirational words from Miss Beamish and Miss Macleod the girls were fighting fit and raring to go. With some great support from our parents on the side line the girls fought and fought. There stick skills were the best I have seen them but unfortunately Sedbergh were a little stronger than us and the final score was 6-0 but this score does not reflect how Ardvreck played. Again the girls put back on their kilts and white shirts and headed back over to the dining room for some lunch. The player of the match, which was selected by the Sedbergh girls, was India N.
Meanwhile 20 minutes away at the senior school the boys warmed up both themselves and the pipes. The pipers formed a tunnel and played beautifully to welcome both teams out of the pavilion and into the arena. The 1st team more swam than walked across to their pitch and in the incredibly boggy conditions understood the need to play a sensible and tight game unlike the previous days’ expansive rugby. It was a very good match with big hits and the referee did very well to work out who was playing for which side given every child looked as though they were playing in the brown of Sedbergh as a result of the mud and puddles! Having slumped to three tries down and spending more time in our own half and going backwards than anything else the boys clicked into gear and played out of their skins. It was an excellent performance and the boys should be very proud despite a 5-2 defeat. Had it been dry I expect the game would have been far closer. Below on Busk was the 2nd team who similarly struggled at the start of the match. They conceded many tries in the first half and it was important for them to regroup. They did this tremendously and playing with passion, hunger and desire they fought back and a very impressive come back it was. They should be equally proud of their performance, particularly the second half!
The girls had a delicious lunch at the prep school and then met the boys who had been well catered for after their match too at the senior school. Presentations were done, Charlie L, thanks to some monstrous tackling was awarded the man of the match award for the 1st team match (selected by the Sedbergh Prep School Headmaster citing “he plays well above his size”). Whilst Thomas P took home the other match ball for his performance in the 2nd team match. We all watched the U16 Sedbergh boys play against Durham which was an experience for all children and staff and even included an Old Ardvreckian who was pleased to be playing with the big number 8 as opposed to against him as he had done on the same tour a few years previously.
It was now time to head to Ampleforth, and as Mr Knock would say ‘gods own country!’ We had a two hour drive to Ampleforth, and as we drove up to the school the children and staff were amazed at the size and beauty of the school. We were shown into our accommodation, which was a guest boarding house and then escorted to supper. The boys who went on tour last year had been very excited about the food they were going to get from Ampleforth and they had been telling all the other boys and girls on the bus so everyone was hoping that it was going to live up to its high expectations, which it most certainly did. After supper, it was back to the boarding house where they played ping pong, pool or watched the X factor before watching a film, the choice this time being ‘Hitch.’ While the movie was on the staff enjoyed some very competitive games of ping pong!!
8am the next morning was time to get up, a lovely lie in compared with the day before! All the children were up in kilts and white shirts as after breakfast we were heading for mass. The children enjoyed a full English breakfast which was gearing them up for their big games against Ampleforth. Before the match was the experience of going to mass. Everyone embraced the whole experience and came out intrigued asking lots of different questions but having really enjoyed what they had witnessed and with which they had joined in.
It was now time to go and get kitted up for their matches. The girls’ were playing 2 x 6 aside matches with goal keepers, so I sorted out two teams and we headed down to the astro. We had lots of support and cheering from the side lines, even more than the day before! The girls were having to work very hard this game as they had a lot of astro to cover with fewer of them playing. Both teams played the best hockey Miss Macleod and I have seen from them this term so far. With the second team winning 2-1, Sacha F scoring both goals and the first team drawing 2 all, Ottie B scoring both goals, the girls were thrilled with their performance and it was lovely to end the tour on a high.
What a way to end the tour! Two wins roared on by great support (as had been the case all tour) and particular highlights hearing parents celebrate their children’s successes. The 1st team put St Martins Ampleforth to the sword in the first half and played some fantastic rugby, spreading the ball wide, bashing it up the middle and even being inventive with some cross field kicks. The defence was very impressive as well and despite tiring towards the end of the match the boys held on to win the match 9-4 thanks to the blistering start that put us 7-0 up. The 2nd were equally dominant and despite conceding a couple of breakaway tries they worked very hard and played some very impressive rugby to win very convincingly indeed. The tour was a success with huge wins against two of the three schools and some hard fought battles in the middle fixture.
We then all returned to our boarding accommodation to change, sort out our kit and go for a Roast Beef lunch with Yorkshire Puddings! After lunch we did the presentations for the matches, Fenella B getting player of the match for the second hockey team and Abi C getting player of the match for the first hockey team. The boys men of the matches were Finn S and once again Thomas P picked up the second team award.
It was the back onto the coach again and we were heading for Hardiesmill, Mr and Mrs Tuke, who were very kindly giving us all supper and a break in the journey. When we arrived just after 7pm, there were lots of lovely smells, and then Roast Beef was produced which looked, smelt and tasted phenomenal, followed by choc ices for all. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their time at the Tuke’s and we are very grateful to them for hosting us so well. We really were treated like royalty! You’d be forgiven for thinking something was happening on their farm!
Back on the bus for the final leg of the journey back to school. With a lot of singing coming from the back of the bus for most of the journey, we eventually pulled back onto the gravel at 10.30pm. With spirits still high we unloaded the bus and headed back to the boarding houses and all crawled into bed. It was a really good, fun and enjoyable tour had by all. The children were a credit to all, the gaps a great support and so a huge thank you to them from the whole tour party! A great success all round, well done boys and girls! (Mr Knock)