22 Jul 2015
South America 2015 - Days 1-5

Tour blog days 1 - 5

After years of planning and weeks of training in preparation the tour party assembled at Heathrow on Friday looking forward to 18 days in South America. The boys were well packed and turned out perfectly in their new tour kit and with a well thought out list of tour 'items' put together by the highly intellectual senior players. However the list included a Christmas cracker, which of course contains a small amount of gunpowder and in the current climate it is not easy to get this through security, so as a group we took the decision to pull our crackers before check-in. A series of loud explosions quickly followed and some rather angry looking airport staff had to be placated with the knowledge that the boys had thought of everything, and our water pistols were used to extinguish the situation.
So after only a minor international crisis, we then had to confront the possible scenario of losing a member of the staff group, as it transpired that Mr Passey did not have a space on the flight, due to a ticketing mix up. However a childhood spent working the backstreets of the Liverpool docks had prepared our translator for anything and he had soon told everyone to calm down, calm down and talked his way into a lift to Buenos Aires.
The flight itself was relatively uneventful, but a change of plane and a quick stop in Madrid nearly put an end to the tour for one of the Development XV front row forwards. With very little open after midnight in the airport food court, this boy got desperate and arranged a deal to swap his passport for a quick bite to eat. This did not go down well with Mr Higgins, who understandably chased the boy back to the food vendor with a tirade of softly spoken words. Luckily the lad is blessed with an incredibly unseen turn of speed and a quick slight of Hand move later he was reunited with his documents and made the flight with seconds to spare. Higgins is still catching his breath.
On arrival in BA the group sailed through the longest customs queue in history with the understanding of the Argentinian economic productivity becoming crystal clear as a result. We then travelled straight to a training session at the home of the 1st Division champions, Hindú Rugby Club and stayed on to watch their men's 1st XV play local and bitter rivals CUBA in an exciting match with the home side coming from behind to win in the final minutes. We would like to thank our hosts for looking after us so well and look forward to welcoming Carlos and his children to Hampton in September to say thank you.
After the match there was a first chance for Mr Higgins and Mr Thomson to talk shop with the locals and learn more about the Argentine culture, with gold cards being an important tool for success in the modern Buenos Aires and also a good insight into the minds of both the departing and new Directors of Rugby.
The following day we all enjoyed a thoroughly insightful tour of the city of Buenos Aires, including visiting the Recoleta cemetery which is where the family mausoleum of Eva Peron is maintained. We then visited the 9th July Obelisk, Plaza de Mayo and Puerto Madero, before finishing up in the La Boca region of the city, with the brightly painted houses of La Caminito. The boys enjoyed a walk around the area before heading to Regatas de Bella Vista Rugby Club for a final training session, ahead of the fist games the following day, and to meet their host families for the next two nights, while the staff went for a steak and Mr Slater learned how not to ride a cow.
In the morning we had the opportunity to visit and have a tour around the stadium of the world famous Boca Juniors football club, for whom Diego Maradona played for many years. The boys then boarded the bus to return to Regatas for our first matches on tour.
Regatas had previously visited Hampton as a touring side in 2009 and so we knew the games would be of a high standard and they did not disappoint. The Development XV, led by Mr Slater and the coaching team of Mr Gray, Mr Passey and Mr Studt, played superbly to win 39-0 but in truth the game was very competitive and our boys scored some excellent tries in a display of proper rugby, with not a green flag in sight. Tries were scored by Bowe x2, J Vyvyan, Howard-Sneyd, Turley, Tsitsis and Rowe, with two conversions from Lloyd-Seed.
The 1st XV had to follow this performance, with Mr Higgins determined that Slater et al would not be able to claim all of the gloating rights that evening, and the boys did not let him down in winning 27-7. The game was extremely physical and played at a high intensity throughout, with Regatas determined not to take a backward step. The first two scores did go to Hampton after some excellent play and went to Attfield and Woollatt, following some excellent play from Stratton and then Malin-Hiscock to create the two chances. Regatas hit back though and went in 12-7 down at half-time. However the Hampton boys were playing their first game since March and the home team are currently in the middle of their season, and this showed after the break, with the tourists finding their stride to score another two tries, firstly from Man of the Match, Verdan, and then with the best score of the game with multiple phases giving Collingridge the space to gallop over from thirty metres after Seddon had sealed the win with a penalty just two minutes before.
The evening was then spent being superbly entertained by our hosts and we would like to thank everyone at Regatas for their fantastically warm hospitality at their beautiful club.
Tomorrow we are visiting the Don Silvano Estancia Ranch, before traveling to Uruguay the day after.