29 November 2022
The tour party of forty-eight players and five staff departed KGS for South Africa at 10.00 am on Friday 8 July. Two flights and twenty-eight hours later, we were on a training field in the shadow of the iconic Table Mountain for our first session on South African soil. Following a long warm up and stretch to get the journey out of the players legs, the forwards and backs worked on their set piece plays, before having a run through. Once checked in to our hotel in Cape Town, everyone enjoyed watching the Springbocks v Wales 2nd test. Needless to say, the strong contingent of Welshmen on tour were very happy with the 13-12 victory for Wales. This set things up nicely for the third test where we had tickets to watch the following week in Cape Town. Later on in the evening, we enjoyed fantastic food at the Victoria and Albert Waterfront where Matt Schmid sampled the ostrich steak at the City Grill steak house.
We enjoyed an excellent breakfast at The Sun Square Hotel - the pancake machine was very popular with Harry Snape giving tutorials on how to use it. We then trained at The Gardens Rugby Club where the forwards focused on the scrum while the backs finalised their strike movers before a final team run through for both squads. In the afternoon, we enjoyed lunch and a couple of hours wandering around the V and A Waterfront. Some boys enjoyed a boat tour of the harbour, whilst others enjoyed shoe shopping!
We then travelled about ninety minutes out of Cape Town to our next accommodation: The Goedgedacht Homestead. The boys and staff enjoyed a wholesome, home-cooked meal of chicken pie, new potatoes and salad. After the meal, Upper Sixth pupils and staff presented Tom Hoad with a Springbok tee shirt to celebrate his 18th birthday, followed by a movie night.
Day 3 (Game day v Goedgedacht)
Breakfast at 8am, before the boys got involved in some work on the homestead, planting crops to support a sustainable food source for the local communities and putting seeds into packets that will be distributed to local communities for planting. We then had our pre-match lunch at 11.00 am and again the food was lovely with the staff catering for any special requirements.
KO game one was at 1.00 pm for the U16 squad who won 29-3. Game two KO 2.15 pm where the A team won 38-10. After the games we went back to the homestead for an evening meal and dancing in the barn. The Upper Sixth enjoyed their own BBQ and fire pit on the balcony.
Breakfast at Goedgedacht before travelling to False Bay Rugby Club in Cape Town for a training session. Lunch at the rugby club and then off to Table Mountain. The coach driver advised that we should just go for it due to the unpredictable weather. Thankfully, we were blessed with clear skies and magnificent views of Cape Town and surrounding areas. We ended up appreciating the sunset as we were the last ones off the mountain. We then checked into the Sun Square Gardens Hotel for two more nights.
The morning activity was a guided tour of the Langa Township where we learnt about the early settlers who established the township and their culture and traditions. The children of Langa were intrigued by our pupils and were really keen to interact and play. Playing football with the children was a big hit as was lifting them onto the player's shoulders. It was a really humbling experience for all involved. The highlight of the Langa trip was the eight course meal we were invited to accompanied by a live marimba band. It was then time to head back to the hotel where the boys and staff had time to do some personal training and recovery in the gym and pool.
Day 6 (Game day v Paulus Jubert High School in Paarl)
The Junior Development Team won 37-0 and the Senior Development Team won 43-0. The after match function was one of the warmest we have ever experienced anywhere in the world. The Headmaster and his staff were extremely passionate and proud people, many of them having a thirty year association with the school. The players sat mixed with the opposition, making friends and sharing stories. It was a special occasion that we will never forget.
That afternoon we checked into our next hotel in Stellenbosch. We enjoyed a lovely evening meal and then the players relaxed using the pool and gym facilities.
One of the highlights of the trip was the visit to the Cape Canopy tour which is an epic mountain-top zip line through the spectacular Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. Pupils and staff were driven up the mountain in off-road pickup trucks before trekking to the starting point. We then completed eight zip lines, crossing ravines hundreds of feet high as we made our way down to the valley floor. It was a thoroughly exhilarating experience for everyone.
Day 8 (Game day v Connect Academy)
Our third and final game of the Cape Town leg was against the Connect Academy. A representative team made up of players who have not been picked up by the provincial academy and a tough group of players with a lot to prove. The Junior Development Team won 34-14 and the Senior Development Team won 12-7.
That afternoon the tour party headed to the DHL stadium in Cape Town to watch the Springbocks play Wales in the test series decider. Mr Trenhaile and his fellow Welshmen wore their colours with pride and sang the anthem at the top of their voices. However, the Springbocks were too strong on the day and won the game 30-14. Nevertheless, this was another incredible experience for everyone.
After a busy first eight days, including three games, it was time for a slower pace. The Cape Peninsula, Cape of Good Hope and penguin tour was a chance to take in the spectacular coastal view and wildlife. The players and staff enjoyed a leisurely day, driven by our fantastic coach driver with various stops, including a fabulous seafood lunch in Simon's Town.
Later in the evening we all attended a pre-booked meal for an authentic African experience at the Gold Ristorante in Cape Town. After the meal, the boys got involved with the live band and danced on stage, everyone had a great time and it was evident that the tour party had really bonded in this first week.
Our last full day in Cape Town before flying to Durban in the morning. The group trained at False Bay Rugby Club again this morning in preparation for the tough test at Durban High School. The players were starting to gel and adapting to the South African style of play and the training session went really well. In the afternoon, the tour party experienced a fantastic lunch at where they celebrated Finlay McLachlan's birthday. Later in the evening we enjoyed shopping and dinner at the V and A waterfront.
Our tour party packed up and left Cape Town, after a memorable 10 days. After a two hour flight to Durban, the tourists boarded the coach and headed to Umlangha, a coastal town standing just north of the city of Durban. After settling into their new accommodation, the squad enjoyed their evening meal at Butcher Block Steak House.
Day 12 (Game day v Durban High School)
After making the most of the breakfast facilities, the boys spent the morning visiting the Natal Shark Board. During their visit, the squad had the opportunity to learn about the coastal management provided by the NSB, as well as experiencing the dissection of a shark.
The squad then travelled to Durban High School to prepare for their evening fixture against one of the country's oldest schools. The Junior Development Team lost 41-0 against a strong Durban outfit and the Senior Development Team fixture went down to the wire, losing narrowly 27-20 after a late score from Durban sealed the victory. The atmosphere at the ground was palpable, with huge support for the home side and a resounding set of school chants welcoming the players. A fixture to never be forgotten.
The group left Umlangha and headed to Hluhluwe, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, with the hope of seeing lions, leopards, elephants, rhino and buffalo. As the journey progressed, the metropolis of Durban soon became the rolling hills of KwaZulu Natal, providing the chance for the squad to see a much different way of life to where they had stayed previously. The tourists arrived at Bushlands Safari Lodge mid-afternoon and wasted no time in heading to meet their Game Ranger in search of the 'Big Five'.
Groups of eight were driven around in open top 4x4's and, in the short time they had been on the road, they had already managed to see countless buffalo, as well as warthog and some monkeys.
At the break of dawn, the squad were able to grab a bite to eat and head straight back out on a game drive, keen to pick up on where they had left off the previous evening. On this day, the different groups all managed to witness elephants, lions and rhino up-close – which quickly helped the boys forget about the early start!
After their morning with the game ranger, the tourists headed out of the game reserve to enjoy a hippo and crocodile tour, giving everyone the chance to enjoy the weather and observe the river wildlife.
The evening brought with it a traditional Braai, where the tourists ate around the fire pit and exchanged their experiences from the game drive earlier.
After food, the international leg of 'KGS Has Talent' took place around the fire pit, with songs from debutant tourists, as well as traditional Zulu songs and dances from the hosts. Despite fierce competition, a rousing rendition of 'Canon Lon' by Morgan Dryhurst Jones dominated the accolades.
Day 15 (Game day v Shark's development)
One final game drive began the day and the tour party were lucky enough to see a lion walking next to their trucks, several rhino and a newly born elephant walking alongside the herd… a unique experience.
After saying goodbye to their hosts at the lodge, the squad headed to the iconic King's Park Stadium in Durban, one of the premier venues for sport in the whole of South Africa. Despite spending much time travelling, both sides found success against the Shark's development team with the Junior Development Team winning 89 – 0 and the Senior Development Team finding themselves comfortably on the right side of the score line too.
After yet another fantastic post match function, the Kirkham tour sides headed back to Umhlanga and began to prepare for the journey home.
The tour party of forty-eight players and five staff departed Durban Airport for Manchester, after over two weeks of touring, ten fixtures, one lost suitcase and countless unforgettable experiences.
A trip of the magnitude of the South Africa 2022 tour provides a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all involved, and our sincere thanks go to our parents and sponsors, without whom such a trip would never have taken place.
In addition to this, our thanks are extended to the tourists themselves, whose 'tour spirit' and high standards were the epitome of what is expected from any Kirkhamian.