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Following the recent poor weather Monday dawned bright and clear, which was just as well given that the objective was the summit of Table Mountain. Having braved the queues and the cable car the tourists were treated to spectacular views of the city and as far a Cape Point. With the squad still intact, the preparations for match number two began with lunch in Nandos en-route to SACS for three 20 minute ‘chukkas’. SACS (South African College School) was founded in 1829 and is considered to be one of the nation’s top state schools (the fact that it’s junior school has a waiting list of over five hundred children gives you an idea of how highly it is regarded) producing rugby players of the calibre of Percy Montgomery.
Match 2 v SACS
In order to afford an opportunity for all the squad to participate again it was planned that the ‘A’ teams would play in the first and third ‘chukkas’, with the younger members of the squad battling it out against SACS ‘B’ in-between. Given the reputation of the host side you could almost be forgiven for expressing some kind of surprise at the way Framlingham set about their work in the opening third as continuity and courage combined to provide the platform for Engelbrecht to shrug off several tacklers before galloping to the line. Gooderham couldn’t add the extras, but the first session ended with Framlingham cherishing a 5-0 lead. The ‘B’ team found the physicality of the South Africans rather tougher and as bodies were stretched in defence the gaps began to appear allowing the hosts to canter in five unanswered tries. The final third saw the two ‘A’ sides continue their confrontation. Encouraged by the success of their ‘B’ string the SACS’ side began brightly, but were continually tested by the hard running Yeats, Walwanda and Gooderham. Their counter attacking game provided rich dividends however as they ran in two further ties from deep and only desperate defence prevented further breaches. The match wasn’t over however and as time slipped by, Goldsmith intercepted deep in his own half to outpace the trailing defenders and score under the posts reducing the deficit to 12-7 by the final whistle.
Whether you combine all three scores or keep the ‘A’ and ‘B’ team scores separate, doesn’t really matter in terms of the overall outcome. The boys all came together as one after the game to embrace and celebrate with new friends; mutual respect enhanced. Still buoyed by the manner of their performance, the squad then departed for a second night with billets free to unwind and enjoy the generous Cape hospitality.
After checking out of the Hotel Graeme, the party made the now familiar walk to the Waterfront to buy presents and enjoy the visit the aquarium. Several also took the opportunity to tour the harbour on ‘Tommy the Tugboat’ much to the amusement of both passengers and onlookers alike! The party was then transferred to the picturesque SACS High School in Newlands for training and to meet their hosts for the first night’s billeting.
Match day against Lagunya Rugby Football Club arrived in a deluge of rain. 65 families in the township were evacuated as their homes were flooded overnight and it was understandable when the opposition failed to arrive in time for a 9.00am kick-off. The opportunity to play and visit the township is a valuable one and despite the conditions underfoot the match proceeded as planned.
Ben Mountford’s try was scant reward for enjoying the lion’s share of the possession and it was almost inevitable that several squandered chances would be punished. Nevertheless, almost all the squad enjoyed their first taste of competitive rugby for several months and the 7-7 score-line at least provided some confidence for the tests ahead.
After presenting Lagunya Rugby Club with generously donated kit and equipment the tour party were then to witness the great cultural divide in South Africa. A tour of the township was followed by lunch at La Lapa Restaurant where Goldsmith, Anthony, Thorne, Schwier and Welsh helped provide the musical entertainment!
The evening entertainment came in the form of a Currie Cup rugby match at Newlands stadium between Western Province and Natal.
With the weather forecast looking decidedly British (rain due for the weekend) the squad assembled at Gardens Tech Rugby Club for their first training session. Nestled at the foot of the slope of Table Mountain and high above the city, the club afforded a most spectacular backdrop to the real business of preparing for the first match in the township tomorrow.
The recovery session was considered rather unorthodox by the locals as the squad took to the unheated outdoor pool on the Seapoint beachfront. Joining the wetsuit clad Africans for a dip certainly raised a few eyebrows and helped bring the squad closer together. The final event of the day was a meal at the V&A Waterfront , before an early night.
After a rather restless night on board our flight to Johannesburg, the tour party stretched their legs to await the connecting flight to the Cape. Bradley McManus (Gap Student four years ago) dropped in to say hello while we also awaited the arrival of our final tourist, Chris Walwanda, from Kenya. With our numbers at full strength we completed the final leg of the journey to discover Cape Town bathed in glorious sunshine and were treated to breathtaking views as the sun set on Table Mountain. Having eaten their fill, the weary squad returned to the hotel eager for the rugby to begin.
It was with great anticipation that the squad gathered at the College on Wednesday morning for the final checks and preparation before departure for Cape Town. There was little to report from the journey other than the addition of Roman Engelbrecht who joined us at Heathrow.