This trip to South Africa by us, the four King’s Hospital TY students, really has been an incredible experience so far. The first day we arrived, April 3rd, it was Muir College head of rugby Mr Gouws and his son Carter who greeted us. He was extremely nice and welcoming. He brought us to Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape and then out to the school and there was a barbecue in his house where we met other Muir staff for the first time who were also very welcoming so we felt very much at ease in our new environment.
The school hostel/boarding students arrived the following day. They told us all about the school rugby and the rules and that we would start rugby training the following day. Paddy O’Boy is born in the year 2000 so he wasn't old enough to play ‘Open’ like the other three of us so he was training with the under 16’s. The training was tough with a lot more running than normal. The other three lads trained with the seconds and firsts together. On weekends, we get taken out by the teachers for activities such as a trip to Jeffrey’s Bay and Bay West, the mall and the beach close to Port Elizabeth. We have a trip to a game park planned along with Addo elephant park in the coming weeks which will be very exciting.
The school’s first fixture was against Union High from a town in the Eastern Cape called Graff Reinet. Match day is a big school event here starting with the u 14s and moving up the age groups with the crowds slowly get bigger as the day progresses. At the start of each game the two schools form a tunnel and chant as the opposition run through the tunnel. The result of the u16 game was a draw as Muir came back from 17-0 to 17 all. The others played seconds and had a convincing win over Union High. The last game of the day is the 1st XV and the whole school attends. Unfortunately, the 1st team lost narrowly to Union this time round.
We attended our first Super 15 game recently at the Nelson Mandela stadium in Port Elizabeth. The local side, the Southern Kings, lost to New Zealand visitors the Highlanders. The standard of rugby was very high and as you would expect in these conditions it was a very fast and open game.
We attend school each day here at Muir (the oldest school in South Africa who celebrate their 200 birthday in a few year’s time) which has around 800 pupils. When not in school we can use the school gym and of course the outdoor swimming pool which can be very relaxing. We have settled in and have made a lot of new friends here.
The following Saturday we played Nico Malan, a strong rugby school from Humansdorp. The u16’s had a bad loss. Felix had his first start in the Senior team. Conall had played the seconds game before and had a good performance so he was called on at half time and played the second half. Edward also played for the 2nd XV. The two lads played well but unfortunately Muir weren't clinical and made simple mistakes which Nico Malan punished.
We took part in a rugby festival at the impressive Grey High school last weekend. We had tough games against Hudson Park from East London and St Alban’s from Pretoria.
We would like to say a big thank you to those at King’s Hospital school who organised the trip for us and to the staff at Muir College who have done a great job in taking care of us. We have really appreciated the opportunity to be on this trip and have really enjoyed it to date. We are here till early July so lots of time left to enjoy this truly amazing country.
Paddy O’Boy, Felix Campbell, Conall Howley & Edward Mahood