Eccles U11s International Tour to North Wales.

International fixture for the U11s!

So, off we went to enjoy the end of season camp in Prestatyn without any trepidation or expectations, except that of having a good time after a tremendous season form the boys!

Adorned in their tour shirts, we met at the club house and it was yours truly and Mark D who ‘drew the short straw’ to accompany 13 boys, all wired on E-numbers and intent on signing their songs in a pitch that left our ear drums bleeding!

The party atmosphere was continued all the way to the North Wales ‘Riviera’ but, our journey was extended thanks to the M56 ‘car park’ allowing the boys even MORE time to collaborate their shanti’s and chants!

So we arrived (eventually) at the Salford Children’s Holiday Camp in Prestatyn.

The first thing to attract the boys attention was the sight of the colourful dorms awash in pastel colours! This was exacerbated by the sight of numerous swings which soon became the focal point of what appeared to be a mass scrumage as  the number of swings proved less than the number of players! Not to worry…. a little clever thinking (from the backs) transpired into a game only they knew the rules to, and once explained to our pack: they got it too!!

Our first night culminated with the Camp manager (no, not John Inman!) having to get out of her bed to bring the excited boys ‘into line!’

As we listened to Dr Dave’s puns and merry mirth, the first night drew in with the prospect of a busy day starting early!


Day One: Up and about following breakfast and an early training session on the sands @ 10.00am! The ‘Tour Horn-Blower’ had been identified and his instructions relayed to the bemused boys: x 3 parps = ‘Hand Grenade’ = hit the deck immediately!  Multiple parps = Shark Attack = Off the floor at all costs! …. However…. as a warm-up, a run through the sand dunes in teams of three, carry tyres, logs and the occasional crabs leg and pockets full of some odd looking spinning things the boys seem to consider THE thing to have at the moment!  Now without giving anything away here (tour rules apply!): it always pays to listen to instructions! The boys did superbly through the dunes, moving like a regiment of paratroopers, they responded to the horn Blowers parps instantly! Scott taking the first tour commendation for his swallow dive into the sand!

Onto the sands for the first serious training session; after all, there was an international game ahead against the Welsh! An hour or so later, the boys had their game plan firmly embedded, so it was time for a paddle in the Prestatyn rock pools! Queue the Horn Blowers parp and a few splash ‘dives’ Tom Daly would’ve been proud of!

Back to Camp and lunch!

Session No 03 saw the boys ramp things up with some bag work and mauling exercises!   Time to sort the girls from the boys eh!!

A bit of ‘rest’ and it was onto the fun of touring! Whilst Mark (the twisted fire starter and bbq expert…. Dutty, you have real competition here!) prepared the camp fire, the boys took up the rope for the Tug-o-war….. then a boat race with white chocolate and FIZZZY lemonade! Second Tour award went to Cater for the best chunder! Honk Jacket on the way, although Matthew deserves special mention as his mum Paula looked on claiming Matt ‘never drinks fizzy drinks’….. well, he destroyed that theory Paula as he blew bubbles of lemonade through his nose!

Next was the ‘egg dare’ ….. catch the egg and hope its a hard boiled one!  The last three eggs were then ‘presented’ by Finn and Joe to their dads…. with the help of a chair to stand on to give that added theatrical effect …..  Finn took pity on his dad Russ, and his lack of folic protection, as he once again showed his soft hands to dab an egg on Russ’ head….. disappointingly, it was hard boiled!  Now it was Joe’s turn to show his dad Mark NO PITY! His egg was walloped on Marks crown and again, to the disappointment of the boys: hard boiled!

A bbq following afternoon tea saw a fine end to the day! Mark had complete control of the steaks as Dave entertained the parents with his impression of Brian Blessed and rugby japes! Excellent…. and all conducted around the blazing camp fire!

Day 02:…. game time: we made the trip to Mold RFC to take on their U11s!

We were met with a fine looking surface and the cheers from our top supporter Liam!

The first thing to note: hmm, the pitch is marked out a little differently! Not to worry!

Second: After the formal introductions, the Ref declares that we will be playing by the Welsh RFU laws! err…. ok, so in order to ‘appear’ knowledgeable, your truly ‘agrees’ pretending he knows exactly what the Welsh laws are! Played with a team consisting of 12 (5 in the scrum), line outs and conversions….. it has to be said that they are a little further ahead with their approach to developing rugby as the ENGLISH RFU don’t allow this for another season! What!

So with a minimal squad, a swift lesson in 5 man scrums and the rudiments of line outs, we hit the ground running but a little confused! However, its rugby boys….. get the ball over that line and do not give it to the opposition!

Mold showed some great lines of running and handling and came into the game on a run of 13 games unbeaten. Our boys put their bodies on the line and every one of them played out of their skins. we scored two superb tries: Carter went in for his first tour try; he was on fire with some wonderful body angles into contact and deserved his try.

Matt then bagged a real tour try….. showing an outrageous dummy, he parted the Mold defence to leave nothing but 60 yards (ok 50 meters) to the try line…. Now, not renown for his speed, its was a real test for the big lad, but, he found it from somewhere with two defenders tracking him! Great stuff and a huge cheer form those watching (including the Mold supporters!)

Up stepped Ollie, never having converted a try ever before, slotted the ball over the uprights!

We went down 7 -2 ….. but, the passion was amazing to witness!  THIS is what touring is all about!

With Cameron playing in his first full game on the wing, he enjoyed some great runs with the pill in hand. Finn stepped into the hookers role and secured his first feed to hook ball through the channel. This was a first for Finn with a second row behind him! So brave Finn… well done!

Jack, Captain on the day, and Evan,put everything into their game with some big hits and carries.

Max and Matt looked to soak up the Mold big runners as well as making their own charges over the gain line. Joe had to contend with a real tight offensive line from the base of the rucks of the scrums with some fine distribution. Ollie had a huge area to secure in the full backs berth and still managed to attack from deep when he could. Scott on the other wing always looked threatening as he constantly asked for the ball. Shayne was superb with his two handed ball carrying into the thick of the contact. Adam played slightly out of his favoured position to occupy the centres role. He gave everything to look for the gap that would provide an advantage for the Gorton St boys.

They were spent at the final whistle! They gave everything…. each one of them, to the last. Under the circumstances, huge opposition squad, huge pitch, a previous days full-on physical activities….. they forged a team bond that will stay with them for some time!

Now its onto the awards: next Sunday in the Marquee, then later in the year for the tour awards!

Great way to end the season!

Thanks goes to:

Paula for all your hard work this season.

Chris on the whistle: its never easy and I’d encourage anyone to have a go!

Vicky for all the match stats and support.

My two coaching colleagues who make it all so much easier: Dave and Mark!!

and.. all the parents without whose support, we would NOT have a team!

See you all next season!