During the Easter break 26 Year 11 and 12 students along with four staff left the Commonwealth Games behind to tour Canada for our biennial Rugby tour. For 15 days the boys explored British Columbia and played seven matches against some of Canada’s finest Rugby playing schools.
For Tour Co-Captains, Lewis and Charles Pye, along with regular 1st XV Captain, Will Stoten, this was their second tour and all three boys led the touring squad admirably both on and off the field.
Highlights of the tour included an NHL match with a backstage pass to watch the Vancouver Canucks come out of their change room and on to the ice. The Canucks extra time victory of 5 goals to 4 over Columbus Blue Jackets, was even more enthralling and one of the best live sporting events I have ever seen.
The following three nights were spent with our good mates Lord Byng School located in West Vancouver. Relationships with the students was further enhanced after they visited us on the Gold Coast, just nine days prior. Many boys enjoyed their time with their hosts but come game day on Easter Monday, the friendships were put aside for 60 minutes as the two teams rekindled their rivalry. Both Somerset teams grinding out comprehensive wins 40 to 3 and 60 to 5 respectively.
From Lord Byng we travelled to Collingwood School, located in the British Properties of Vancouver. Collingwood students have been visiting us here at Somerset since 2003 and we have a long established relationship. The boys were treated to some superb hospitality in one of the wealthiest areas in Canada for another three nights. During the day we explored some of Vancouver’s sites including Stanley Park, China Town, Gastown, Downtown and Grouse Mountain, spending a half day at the latter ice skating, tobogganing and throwing snowballs at each other. For some of the boys it was the very first time they had set foot on the snow; certainly a memorable and fun experience!
We also indulged in some good old-fashioned fun with a go-karting excursion, where all the boys’ competitive sides were on full display. Rhian Stowers demonstrated he had little regard for his team mates, showing no mercy as he cut people off at will during his 15 minutes behind the wheel! Ultimately, Mr Zernike showed his experience and class, to take out the fastest lap, much to the dismay of the 26 boys and two other staff! The two games against Collingwood provided much stiffer opposition but both the 10 aside team and 1st XV displayed improved efforts in cool, wet conditions to emerge victorious 32 to 12 and 24 to 5.
After farewelling our hosts at Collingwood, we ventured to one of the Skiing Capitals of the world, Whistler. For two full days, we skied and snowboarded in what can only be described as ‘magical’ conditions. The first day we had snow falling as we explored the many different runs Whistler and Blackcomb have to offer, while Sunday we had much clearer conditions making for a totally different experience. The boys enjoyed revelling in the day's stories as they soaked in the hotel’s hot tubs after a full day’s skiing and snowboarding. Memories they are certain to cherish for many years to come!
From Whistler we caught the ferry over to Victoria on Vancouver Island to spend the last five days of the tour. We knew we had a big game against Canada’s top Rugby playing school for the last decade, Shawnigan Lake. Mr Attoe and Mr Anderson called for a training session the day prior to the game and it paid dividends as the 1st XV prevailed in a physical encounter 47 to 19. Running away from Shawnigan in the back half of the match with three exceptional tries. Spending the night at Shawnigan was a real treat, as they have a purpose built boarding house for visiting teams. The school is often described as ‘Hogwarts’ with it’s very British looking buildings and surrounds. The team enjoyed some storytelling in the common room about the day’s events, along with some funny stories about the tour to date.
With one more game to go and the tour winding to an end, the squad enjoyed some regular meal times together at our favourite team restaurant, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers. The team also explored the local shopping mall where many boys took great delight in riding toy animals around the centre. As they say, boys will be boys!
The final match of the tour was against Brentwood College who are another powerhouse Rugby school in Canada. The team found it difficult to get up for the game after such elation in beating Shawnigan two days prior. Brentwood ran with purpose and they had some very physical players. The team pulled together in the second half after absorbing a lot of first half pressure to finish the match 31-21 victors.
The final day of the tour was spent travelling back to Vancouver by ferry. The team partook in a competitive game of mini golf at a local indoor min golf establishment. Michael Taulepa and Ziggy Enoch took out the worst mini golfer’s award whilst Mr Attoe demonstrated his deft skills around the green. The final team meal was held at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Richmond before heading to the airport to catch our return flight home.
During our two week adventure to Canada, the 26 young men attending represented themselves, their families, the College and Australia superbly, showing exceptional determination and endeavour on the field as well as humility, pragmatism and comradeship off the field. My thanks to all the young men as well as Mr Troy Zernike, Mr Spence Attoe and Mr Grant Anderson for making the trip a great success both on and off the field.
Somerset College v Lord Byng Secondary School
2nd XV Fixture - Somerset College 40 defeated Lord Byng 3
Man of the match: Luka Lewis
1st XV Fixture - Somerset College 60 defeated Lord Byng 5
Man of the match: Rhian Stowers
Somerset College v Collingwood School
2nd XV Fixture - Somerset College 32 defeated Collingwood School 12
Man of the match: Aidan McKeon
1st XV Fixture - Somerset College 24 defeated Collingwood School 5
Man of the match: Henry Arbon
Somerset College v Shawnigan Lake School
2nd XV Fixture - Shawnigan Lake School 37 defeated Somerset College 20
Man of the match: Jack Cerutti
1st XV Fixture - Somerset College 47 defeated Shawnigan Lake School 19
Try scorers: Riley Noon 3, Luka Lewis, Aidan McKeon, Henry Arbon, Penalty Try
Conversions: Henry Arbon 6/7
Man of the match: Rhian Stowers
Somerset College v Brentwood College
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1st XV Fixture - Somerset College 31 defeated Brentwood College 21
Try scorers: Rhian Stowers 2, Riley Noon, Declan Thew, Sam Dalton
Conversions: Henry Arbon 2, Sam Dalton 1
Man of the match: Sam Dalton and Alex Ceh