South Africa 2017 – Keenly Contested Matches And Superb Sightseeing

Over the summer of 2017 the College enjoyed a very successful 15 day sports tour to South Africa. Taking our largest squad ever, of some 88 pupils and 11 staff, and for the first time playing three sports, Rugby, Netball and Hockey, the tour travelled to Johannesburg and then on to Cape Town for a fortnight full of keenly contested matches and spectacular sight-seeing.

During the tour the rugby, netball and boys and girls’ hockey teams participated in six full days of good spirited and competitive training and matches against school and club teams. They included Midstream College, Pretoria High School, Tygerberg High School, Stellenberg High School, Brackenfell High School, Edgemead High School, Kasselsvlei High School, Bloemhof High School, Hottentots Holland High School, Holy Rosary School For Girls, Garsfontein High School, Centurion Barbarians and Edenvale Hooked on Hockey Club. Our South African hosts were so hospitable and the training and matches were great experiences for all, with valuable lessons learnt both on and off the field.

On the Rugby field we had two good wins: Princethorpe v Tygerburg High School: 22-17 and Princethorpe v Brackenfell High School: 22-19. In the second match Upper Sixth Former Ayuk Takang took a glorious penalty from half way to win the match in the final kick of the game. Ayuk was also top points scorer for the tour with 18 personal points (one try, 5 conversions and 1 penalty). Tom Warne was top try scorer with 3 tries. Overall Josh Evans was ‘player of the tour’ for rugby and Will Stone made a great all-round contribution to the tour - he was brilliant getting involved with the activities and embodied the ethos of the school well. Lewis King, Alex Meredith, Josh Evans, Finn Nicholas, Ayuk Takang, Matthew Traversoni, Kieran Platt-McLoughlin all won ‘player of the match’ awards.

Some of our netball highlights included the A team, whilst being pushed by our opponents, remaining unbeaten for the tour and showing true grit and resilience, especially in the last fixture against Bloemhof. The B team made good progress too, as individuals, and as a team. Eve Tolley was ‘girl of the tour’ for netball – starting with 100% attendance to the pre-tour training and always trying her best and progressing well. The ‘most progress’ award went to Sarah Abrahams, she listened well during coaching and became a more dominant player in the circle, she never gave up and showed great perseverance and attitude throughout. Anna Wells, Chloe Kempton, Grace Whitley, Georgina Peake, Lily Dyble, Lizzie Watson, Molly Geehan all won ‘player of the match’ awards.

Our boys’ hockey teams were unbeaten on tour, posting some impressive wins and a long list of goal scorers. The matches against Edgemead High School and Stellenberg High School were tough but the teams won 3-2 and 5-3 respectively. Many of the boys had worked hard in pre-tour training and their improvements paid off when they were challenged by skilled opponents. Devon Christie and Rob Lord both won ‘most improved players’ on tour, their knowledge of the game developed two-fold during the two weeks and they caused other teams real problems when they were on the pitch. Oscar Kay won ‘player of the tour’ for his silky skills and some fantastic goals. He was a hard-working and deadly force on the pitch and helped the boys have some wonderfully linked play in every game. It was a fantastic tour for the boys’ hockey team. Devon Christie, Oscar Kay, Oliver Mansell, Matthew Jones, Aidan McMahon, Joseph Rees, Nathan Golsby-Taylor, Robert Lord, Tim Duffy all won ‘player of the match’ awards.

The girls’ hockey teams lost only the one match and performed brilliantly against some tough opponents across the two weeks. Both the A and B teams showed excellent resilience against a variety of teams who played a different style of hockey to the one we are used to. There were brilliant individual performances from Abby Keast, Cara Wallis and Freya Barnett, but the hockey ‘girl of the tour’ went to Charlotte Silvester for her determination and effort in every game and her confidence which grew across the tour. Our ‘most improved’ female hockey player was Lizzie Watson who scored a multitude of goals and worked enthusiastically and continually with the players around her. It was a brilliantly successful tour for the hockey girls with many improvements that they will be able to build upon during our season in the Michaelmas Term. Freya Barnett, Abby Keast, Lois Carsley, Kate Palmer, Charlotte Silvester, Cara Wallis and Lizzie Watson all won ‘player of the match’ awards.

Away from the sports field, the tour offered participants the chance to broaden their horizons with sightseeing and educational experiences that included the history of South Africa with tours of Soweto and the Apartheid Museum and a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. Pupils also had the opportunity to experience South Africa’s vibrant culture at Lesedi village and get up close and personal with the wildlife in game drives at Pilanesberg Game Reserve. The tour party also enjoyed the spectacular scenery of Table Mountain in Cape Town and the most southern tip of Africa at Cape Point.

Peter Bucknall, Head of Rugby and leader of the tour, said, “South Africa is a truly stunning country, passionate and fiercely competitive in their sport. We have had an excellent trip and played some inspiring matches and I know that our Princethorpe pupils will have returned home with a truly wonderful set of memories.”

Our thanks go to all of the staff involved in putting together and running such an impressive trip. We look forward to the experiences translating into positive results on the rugby, netball and hockey pitches over the coming season.

Photos from the Tour.