King William’s College is reflecting on a ‘once in a lifetime’ sports tour.
75 pupils aged between 14 and 18, plus 11 members of staff, spent two weeks in New Zealand, Fiji and Australia for the 2019 Rugby and Hockey Tour.
As well as competing against local high schools sports teams, the youngsters were given the opportunity to experience new cultures, taste new cuisine and enjoy tourist hotspots in each destination.
After more than 24 hours spent travelling from the Isle of Man to Oceania, the group arrived in New Zealand. Upon reaching Auckland they wasted no time in seeing the sights and made their way up the famous Sky Tower to take in the epic views, before a visit to Eden Park, home of the All Blacks rugby team.
The opening rugby match of the tour for the 46-strong boys’ squad was against Rosehill College – the school of former All Blacks’ captain Kieran Read - which they lost 41-10 in a well-fought game. As they prepared for their next match and travelled through New Zealand, they tried luging in Rotorua and visited the Lord of the Rings movie set, Hobbiton.
The second match was against Otumoetai College, which King William’s College won 19-10, followed by refreshments with the opposition and an insight into traditional Maori culture.
After arriving in Wellington, via a stop-off for a river cruise on the Waikato River to see the incredible Lake Taupo, they played their third and final game in New Zealand against Wainuiomata High School, a proud Maori school. After the match, they enjoyed one of the most memorable moments of the trip – eating ‘Hangi’, food cooked in a pit on heated stones, with the host team.
From Wellington, the players flew to Fiji where they played, and unfortunately lost, against the prestigious Ratu Navula School. Post-match their spirits were lifted by spending a few hours playing touch rugby and singing Fijian songs with members of the local community. The remaining days in Fiji were spent enjoying a Navua River Canoe ride and visit to the ‘Magic Waterfall’, as well as a day of relaxing and snorkelling around one of the country’s 330 uninhabited islands.
The final fixture of the tour was in Sydney, Australia, against the very physical Shore School. The result went against King William’s College by 19-29, but the boys enjoyed the fight. They then took the opportunity to do some sightseeing and shop for souvenirs, before embarking on their long journey home.
Rugby Captain, Lucas Martin, said:
‘The tour was absolutely incredible! We played some brilliant rugby sides, but I think most of us would agree the highlight of the trip was getting to spend time with the local people in the towns and cities we visited, hearing about their different cultures and sharing their food. Everyone was so friendly and we’ll remember it for the rest of our lives.’
The 29-strong girls’ squad didn’t begin their matches until they arrived in Fiji, after a very bumpy flight from New Zealand. Following a relaxing morning spent by the pool recovering from their travels, they played some fast-paced netball against a local school in some very warm conditions, which was followed by a touching exchange of gifts and hugs.
During their time in Fiji they had the opportunity to explore its natural beauty. They enjoyed a boat trip to a freshwater waterfall, visited a traditional village and spent their final day enjoying the hot Fijian sun on a private island. The students were touched by the generosity of the local residents and time spent with them gave the group a better appreciation of the different lives people live.
The players then flew back to Christchurch and enjoyed a tour of the city, which is still being rebuilt following the devastating earthquake in 2011. They then took part in a six-a-side hockey tournament against a local club, which was won by King William’s College following victory in all their matches.
A planned whale watching trip was cancelled due to bad weather – surprisingly similar to a Manx winter – but gave the students time to do some shopping and exploring. Then, after a very rough boat journey from the South to North Island to reach Wellington, they played a tough match against Kapiti Hockey Club; a side which included a black sticks player with over 100 caps for New Zealand.
While in New Zealand, the girls had the opportunity to experience some of the activities the country is most famous for, including white water rafting, excursions to glow worm caves and hot springs. They even spotted the famous Kiwi bird!
The final hockey match was a close contest in the pouring rain and the players were forced to flick the ball over the puddles forming around the pitch! After drying off, they had a final team meal, where they reminisced on the unforgettable memories made and success of the tour.
Captain Mia Hall commented:
‘We are all so thankful to the teachers and everyone who made the trip so amazing. It really was the trip of a lifetime and an experience that none of us will ever forget.’
Bernadette Dunn, Director of Sport at King William’s College, said:
‘Our sports tours take place every three years in destinations across the globe, with previous years including visits to Canada, South America, Australia and the Far East. It’s an incredible opportunity for the students to see the world, experience different cultures, make new friends and play competitive sport and we’re delighted that the 2019 Oceania Tour was another hugely successful and unforgettable trip for our pupils.’