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Overseas experience

24 Oct 2018

The four College trips ­– one to the USA and Canada, three to Japan – that took place in the recent school holidays were unforgettable experiences for the participating boys.

USA and Canada

Co-captain Ted Grigg and players Jordy Annand and Jamie Barr say the football tour was an ideal mix of sightseeing and soccer, with matches against seven schools and plenty of time for training and other activities. As Jordy says, “It’s not every day you get the opportunity to travel to the USA and Canada with a big group of boys and play the sport you love. It was amazing.”

The tour lived up to all their expectations and more. They loved the warm welcomes they received at the host schools, meeting new people and being billeted in family homes. “Everyone was so nice, so friendly and kind. It was fantastic staying with families. They treated us as one of their own,” says Jamie.

As a veteran of two College football trips, Ted believes touring is an ideal way to build skills and create strong bonds among players. “Football is one of the biggest sports in the world and touring is a great way to improve your game and improve the team. We had a really good group of lads and it was good fun. I think you change after a tour, feel more confident in yourself and your abilities, more mature.”

The football squad took a road trip up the east coast of America and into Canada, from Washington DC to Montreal, and then flew to Vancouver before heading home. They were away from Friday 21 September–Wednesday 10 October.

Japan

The language tour took in the best of ancient and modern, introducing the boys to Japan’s rich history and culture.

“Everything about Japan is so different from home, and that’s what makes it so intriguing and appealing,” says Year 12 student Alex McKenzie-Rimmer.

“Japan has thousands of years of history all layered together in a compact space,” adds fellow Year 12 student Nate Wain. “You can be visiting an ancient temple and then wander 400 metres down the road to an ultra-modern skyscraper. It’s surprising and exciting and endlessly fascinating.”

The group visited places as diverse as car manufacturing plants, amusement parks, palaces, temples and shrines, as well as Christchurch’s sister city Kurashiki, and Hiroshima, before spending their last few days at College’s brother school Konan Boys’ High School and staying with host families.

“The home stays were a highlight,” says Alex. “It was amazing to see how Japanese families live and how they structure their lives. Up at 6 and out by 7 to catch the train to school, and then up late doing homework. They have an amazing work ethic, through the roof!”

Alex and Nate say the tour was a perfect introduction to and mix of different aspects of Japanese life – from the Tokyo megalopolis, to the traditions and history of Kyoto, to the residential area of Kobe, they found it all inspiring and are already planning to return.

The tour took place from Tuesday 25 September–Tuesday 9 October. 

Further north, the College U16 rugby squad visited the cities of Kamaishi, Kitakami and Morioka in Iwate prefecture, the area devastated by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. It was as much a cultural as a sport visit, with the emphasis on friendship and shared experiences. Year 11 students Matt Durant and Louis Gunn say the boys wanted to improve their rugby skills, learn how Japanese students play rugby, experience Japanese culture and build relationships between College and their hosts.

They discovered significant differences in the way the two countries approach rugby. “They play really fast rugby, like to keep the ball moving and play to a fixed plan,” says Matt. “It’s a very structured game in Japan, whereas we like to improvise more in New Zealand.”

A highlight of the trip was playing a match at the new Kamaishi Unosumai Stadium, also known as the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, which opened in August and is set to host two matches in next year’s Rugby World Cup.

“It was quite moving to play at the new Kamaishi stadium,” says Louis. “And very interesting to learn about the effects of the earthquake and tsunami, and compare and contrast with the Christchurch experience. After so much stress and trauma, it was humbling to see how a shared passion for rugby and shared experience of natural disaster can bring people together.”

While in Morioka, on behalf of College, Louis presented a gift of a greenstone teardrop pendant to the governor of Iwate prefecture Takuya Tasso, designed to symbolise the links between our cities and the joy the connection brings (see the ceremony here).

The U16 team were in Japan from Wednesday 26 September–Tuesday 9 October.

Meanwhile, a group of seven 1st XV players, all students planning to return to College in 2019, arrived in Japan for an intensive rugby training camp.

They began their tour with a visit to Konan Boys’ High School and a training session with the Kobe Steel Rugby Club, where former All Black Dan Carter is based, before heading to Ota, near Tokyo.

Ota is home to the Panasonic Wild Knights, one of the top teams in the Japanese league, coached by Old Boy Robbie Deans. For two weeks, the boys experienced what it is like to train as a professional rugby player, picking up tips and techniques to improve their game, working alongside All Blacks flanker Matt Todd and a number of Australian internationals.

This is the second time members of College’s 1st XV have attended such a camp. Assistant to the Director of Sport Stephen Dods, who accompanied the group, says it is how Robbie Deans has chosen to support and give back to College rugby, and offers an amazing opportunity for our top players. The boys were away from Wednesday 3–Thursday 18 October.

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