QEH Rugby on tour in Canada and the USA
This summer, QEH Rugby set off across 'the pond' for their first ever tour of Canada and the USA.
They found their bearings in Vancouver from the Lookout Tower, where they contemplated the stunning views of the city alongside the history of some of Vancouver’s more distinctive landmarks. Two training sessions in cool, damp Failand type conditions re-sharpened their rugby skill sets after a long off-season and the team began to find some semblance of structure.
Alongside the training sessions, QEH Rugby got to grips with the classic Canadian summertime sport of Box Lacrosse, ventured into Stanley Park, home to the colourful First Nation Totem Pole and headed to Jericho beach, as well as taking a well earned time out at the Cultus Water Park.
The stage was then set for QEH Rugby’s first pair of fixtures of the tour against Burnaby Lake RFC. The U16s were the first to take the field and set the bar high with an emphatic 76-0 win. With abrasive forwards and stiletto like backs, they mercilessly cut through Burnaby Lake’s hapless defence. Next up were the U18s and, while not quite as dominant as the U16s, they too kicked off the tour with a resounding (44-5) win over their Burnaby lake opposition.
The next day, the tour moved to Vancouver Island where whale watching was the first order of the day. It was not long before orca and later humpback whales were sighted, as well as a token porpoise.
The second round of fixtures took place against the local Cowichan Rugby Club. Sadly, Cowichan could only field one team, but everyone in the squad got some playing time. The match took place in stunning surroundings, and QEH again scored a convincing victory (sadly none of the team can quite remember the final score line) in what was a much more physical encounter.
Next it was across the border to the USA and the squad's Seattle base. Once again, the team viewed their base from on high- the famous Seattle Space Needle.
Game day. Undefeated so far, the squad wanted to finish the tour on a high but on arrival at the ground they were confronted by some of the biggest players they’d ever encountered. Under the hot Seattle sun, the second team put in a truly gutsy performance, undaunted by the considerable disparity in size, but ultimately succumbing to a narrow 5-19 defeat.
The first team match was a tour classic! It was a nail-biting game filled with numerous momentum swings, bone shuddering hits and moments of individual brilliance (Freddy Anderson-Bickley’s solo effort being try of the tour). Only moments from the end, it looked all over for QEH as their resolute defence was pierced by what looked to be the winner for the opposition. Cometh the hour, cometh the MEN. From the restart the forwards hit the ruck like an industrial flailing engine, the ball was scooped-up by Harvey White who took off like a marauding moose. Only the try line stopped him reaching Canada as he put down the ball to score a last gasp try and seal a memorable victory. 40-44!
They returned to Canada, stopping midway to their final destination of Whistler to ascend Grouse Mountain by cable car, where the squad were able to see grizzly bears, birds of prey and lumberjacks up close and personal. Mountain biking and retail therapy followed before the team enjoyed a final dinner together as prizes were awarded for performances on the tour. Lewis Coates-Johns and Mo Hawary claimed the ‘Rising Star’ prizes for seconds and firsts respectively, while Ollie Morris and Harvey White were awarded ‘Players of the Tour’. However, the most prestigious award, ‘Best Tourist’ was reserved for Archie Doherty for a combination of on-pitch performance and, arguably more importantly, the incessant stream of high-level banter. Congratulations to all.
The squad returns with both a winning record and a fraternal sense of togetherness that few other teams can match. Roll on next season!