On the Friday evening of the first May Bank holiday weekend an intrepid group of our under 13s set off to Trecco Beach which was not far away in time west along the M4 where they enjoyed a fantastic weekend of international rugby in the Principality of Wales.
On Saturday morning, we shook the motorway miles out of the players’ legs with a run around on a misty Porthcawl beach. The glorious sunshine arrived around mid day and we mixed sun cream with salt and vinegar as the players and parents put away a proper Tough of the Track fish and chips by the beach.
That set up our boys for their first game against Porthcawl U 13s at 4pm following the warm up match which was Porthcawl Youth against Barkers Butts Colts from the Midlands. Their referee, Dai, a former bailiff from Swansea, agreed to ref our game too.
Dai the ref took no nonsense. There were no high tackles and there was no lip. Porthcawl played in a good spirit. Their parents and coaches were hospitable and friendly. The sun came out on the Welsh Riviera and we were all sunburned by the end of the afternoon. The beers were cheap and plentiful. One of our players played drums for one number with the band in the clubhouse.
On tour, OCs played for the first time with 8 forwards and line outs. The opposition had played to these laws all season but we adapted well to new situations on the pitch. Our defence was strong in the middle and the opposition coaches complimented our first up tackling. However, Porthcawl attacked with variety and width and scored on the wings. Porthcawl won well, but with grace.
After the game, we presented a man of the match trophy to the opposition player selected by our parents. They did the same. Also, we gave Porthcawl a trophy from our club, inscribed Harry 95. The tour was dedicated to our much loved player Harry Noyce who passed away earlier in the season. 95 was his favourite number and one of our players has worn a shirt with the number 95 in every game since. The Porthcawl coaches put the trophy in their trophy cabinet that afternoon so there is a memory of Harry and OCs in Porthcawl rugby club.
In the evening, parents took care to re-hydrate thoroughly back at Trecco Bay, while the players enjoyed a pool party and then expanded their cultural knowledge in the amusement arcade.
Sunday morning was misty again and this time the whole day remained damp as a British bank holiday should. Our opponents Bridgend Athletic, known as the Ath, had won their district cup the previous weekend. They had put a few points on Porthcawl earlier in the season and we had been warned that the Ath were good.
Our 8-man scrummaging was better than the day before and our defence was again enthusiastic. . But the Ath were well drilled in the rucks and passed well to their wings who got outside our defence a number of times. As we tired in the second half, the Ath added to their score but OCs never gave up and gave a good account of themselves against one of the stronger age group sides in South Wales.
The Ath looked after us well following the game. We exchanged man of the match awards and we presented them also with a Harry 95 Tour tablet.
Both clubs were good hosts and we would recommend them to other age groups. Our players developed a great deal during the tour. The laws they played to on tour are very similar to the RFU U14 rules so we should benefit at the start of next season, hopefully! Most of all, our players learned how rugby is a community which helps us make friends across national boundaries.
Mention should be made of the tour committee’s fund raising efforts during the year. Led by team manager Karen F they made the weekend more affordable for our families and we look forward to next year’s tour, possibly to another 6N destination.