Overseas Tours - A Tradition
The first tour of the Dunbarton HS rugby squad (a.k.a. Dunbarton RFC) was in 1981. Under the guidance of coaches Ed Grant and Mike Steele the team used the tour as a pre-season tune-up. The magic of two weeks in the UK must have worked as the boys returned to complete a dream saeson ... winning the Ontario Championship (OFSAA).
Having enjoyed the touring experience the Spartans returned to the UK in the spring of 1983 with coaches Wlison Brock, Dan Dekking and Mike Steele. These first two expeditions were quite ambitious as they included visits to schools in England and Wales.
With success and tradition now well estalished the 1985 tour included a first and second side. Schools on the itinerary included Whitgift School (South Croydon, Surrey), St. Davids School (St. Davids, Wales) and Brecon HS (Brecon, Wales) where the Head of Physical Education's son was a fullback for the Welsh side (Mark Wyatt). In what one has to consider an amazing accomplishment the two sides won all but one match (a tie) !
The1987 edition of the Spartans were again poised to do great things in league play. A March Break tour led by Russ Arbuckle and Paul Hart met some powerful sides and took their lessons in stride. This strategy proved to be the right one as this group of young men played inspired rugby, on their return, while marching to another Ontario title.
In 1990 Dunbarton RFC were guided through an England and Wales tour by Bill Dalliday, Dan Dekking and Terry Fallis. Schools visited included Broxbourne School (Hertfordshire), Christ College and Brecon HS (Powys, Wales), Bristol Grammar School, St. Bees School (Cumbria) and Whitgift School (South Croydon). One of the tour highlights was the rally-like driving as staff members navigated the narrow British roads with the touring party crammed into three mini-busses !
The 1993 touring party included two sides. Coaches Bill Dalliday, Steve Dawson, John Drew, Terry Fallis and Chris May accompanied the Spartans to Broxbourne School, Goffs School (Hertfordshire), Brostol Grammar School, Cambridge Sixth From School and Whitgift School. The opposition proved to be very strong with the seconds aviding a triple digit loss only by the good fortune of the ball becoming lodged in a tree for several minutes following a convert as time was ticking down.
In 1996 the tourists renewed friendships with Broxbourne and Goffs Schools then headed north to Lady Lumley's School in Pickering (North Yorkshire). Upon arrival in Pickering the group was hosted at a reception with the mayor and council who were pleased to establish a link with the 'new' Pickering. The team also had the priviledge of playing the first floodlit match at the Malton & Norton Rugby Club's new field and clubhouse. The tour then travelled to the Manchester area to play Cheadle Jume School and Stockport Grammar School. Bill Dalliday Terry Fallis and Al Johnson escorted the side on the fortnight tour.
The Y2K tour included stops in England, Wales and Spain with coaches Jamie Brown, Bill Dalliday, Terry Fallis, Hugh Mowbray and Tom Reed. After visiting old friends at Broxbourne School , Lady Lumley`s School and renewing the link with Brecon HS,(after a ten year absence) the party left for 5 days in Barcelona, Spain. In Barcelona matches were played against U.E. Santboiana and U of Barcelona.club. This was a daunting journey but one that left the thirty-six young men with great memories from the varied cultural and rugby encounters.
A first ever trip to Scotland and attendance at an international match highlighted the 2003 tour. After touching down at Heathrow Airport and playing matches at Broxbourne School the touring party headed to Edinburgh and a memorable stay for many reasons. With the bus only two hours from the Scottish capital it was discoveredthat the travel agent has not forwarded payment for the hotel rooms and they had not been held. Many frantic transatlantic phone call later lodging had been secured and the tour of Edinbugh could begin. The Spartans travelled to the home of golf in St. Andrews followed by playing two spirited matches against Edinburgh Academy. A trip to Murrayfield was next to take in a Scotland-Wales Six nations match. The sight of a full house of singing and swaying supporters was an unforgettable event for the Canadians. Hostings and fixtures at Brecon HS and Bristol Grammar School rounded out the two week campaign with coaches, Jamie Brown, Bill Dalliday, Terry Fallis, Hugh Mowbray, Tom Reed and Dave Russell.
The advent of the four year high school plan meant a senior group of players would graduate without having the chance of participating in a tour if the 3 year cycle was kept. The solution was to travel to Barbados for a training camp/mini-tour around the Easter break in 2005.
Bill Dalliday, Hugh Mowbray, Jamie Brown, Tom Reed and 35 players met at 5:00 a.m. on the Thur. prior to Easter for a short bus ride to Pearson Airport. Unfortunately on arrving at the airport they found that the jet had not arrived the evening before and their flight was cancelled. After much scrambling by airline personnel half of the students were able to depart on flights that connected through Miami and Philadelphia. The remainder trudged home and returned the next morning for their flight.
The camp was filled with early morning training sessions (6 a.m.) to avoid the tropical heat. Afternoons were crammed with a variety of activities from sightseeing to just soaking up the "rays". The explorations included a tour of Bridgetown and the island, Oystens fish market, Crane Beach, a catarman ride and snorkelling and a local cultural show. Worked in among all this were two friendlies against a Baijan club. It was a tired and tanned group team that arrived back on Canadiann soil nine laters. And if the snafus of getting to the island were not enough, many arrived back home only to find their luggage was lost in transit !
On March 6, 2006 the first ever combined rugby and field hockey tour saw 51 players and 10 staff descend on the U.K. Rugby coaches with the group were: Bill Dalliday, Terry Fallis, Hugh Mowbray, Jamie Brown, Anthony Phelan, Jonathan Demaray and Tom Reed.
A first ever hosting at St. Georges School, Harpenden (Hertfordshire) provided a chance for a training session with coaches from the academy of premiership team Saracens. As if using theri facilities and receiving top notch coaching was not enough, the group were invited to have lunch with the first team and were presented with authentic game jerseys on leaving.
From Harpenden the tourists bussed to Bath for sightseeing then journeyed on to Brecon HS (Wales). On match day an unexpected development awaited the Spartans ... a 5 cm overnight snowfall ! Not to be overcome by the white stuff the hosts adapted better to the winter wonderland than the Canadians.
The tourists then moved on to Biriminghan. King Edward VI Aston was the setting for two matches with very experienced sides. Despite coming out on the low end of the scores some valuable lessons were imparted on the visitors.
The final hosting was at Broxbourne School (Hertfordshire), the longest continuous exchange with DHS. As always the stay included a trip into London, which only took 3 hours on board the Pride of Hertford captained by Bob (Ping Pong) Bowers ... not missing a single stop light ! After wrapping up two matches at the Hertford Rugby Club the group had one last day of with their hosts before heading to Heathrow Airport and the flight home.
From April 5-12, 2008 a second Barbados Tour was undertaken in preparation for the upcoming season. Thirty-three players and coaches Terry Fallis, Hugh Mowbray, Jamie Brown and Jonathan Demaray called the Rostrevor Hotel in St. Lawrence Gap home for the week. The Dover Cricker Club was kind enough to offer their pitch for our training sessions. The short 5 minute jog from the hotel was a great warm-up and wakeup for the daily 6 a.m. practices.
St. Lawrence Gap was also ideally situated for the activities and outings the group did during the week. Highlights included: playing "king of the iceberg" with Mobes at the Boatyard, Oystens Fish Market, the island tour and boogey boarding at Crane Beach, snorkelling with sea turtles, duty free shoppping in Bridgetown and rescuing Dunnie (the mascot) after he had been swept from the catarman into from the Caribbean. Oh and lets not forget the nearly nightly chicken dinners, nary a steak in sight!
The week was capped with a match against the local and national (it's all the same) U18 side played at Garrison Savannah. The lads played a great back and forth match with the Spartans prevailing 17-15. The referee finally blew full time as the sun was setting in the Bajan sky ... by that time the sundial he was using to time the match had stopped working!
Tyler Booth and Jase Stephens were selected by the coaches as the "players of the tour" for their leadership in training and the match. In a related matter Steve Humphries received the Air Farce award for dress (toga) and the humour (see various photos) he provided all week!!
The 2011 tour was a small group of 22 players plus coaches Hugh Mowbray, Jon Demaray, Sean Pedersen and Terry Fallis that departed for a 10 day, three school, three distinct cultures tour. After landing at Heathrow the group headed towards Brecon HS via Stonehenge and Bath. While in Brecon the team had a coaching session with a WRU instructor as well as playing a match on a brilliant afternoon. A tour of Big Pit National Coal Mining Museum gave the players a sense of Welsh history and culture as sung by our coal miner guide.
Departing Brecon for Dublin, Ireland the tourists travelled by coach on the narrow, twisting Welsh roads to the port of Holyhead for a crossing on board the Ulysses, the largest car ferry in the world. Fortunately for the Spartans the Irish Sea was calm that day, allowing for a smooth passage. While in Dublin the traditional Irish friendliness was demonstrated by our hosts at Castleknock College. The boys were again lucky enough to have training sessions led by local coaches. The first was by the deputy mayor of Dublin at Old Wesley RFC and the second by a South African coach associated with Castleknock College. These coaching clinics gave the Spartans valuable insight into the game through the eyes of coaches from different backgrounds. The extra coaching paid off with the boys playing a superb match, only losing on a last minute try by Castleknock. To round out the Irish experience the tourists had a behind the scenes look at the recently opened Aviva Stadium. This was a first time visit for any Dunbarton RFC team to Ireland.
After a short Ryanair flight to Stansted Airport the group was met by Bob (Ping Pong) Bowers and his coach "the Pride of Hertford", who would escort us on the London portion of the tour as he had for the past six tours. The exchanges with Broxbourne School have been ongoing for over 25 years with at least 15 combined cross-Atlantic hostings. Included in the itinerary was a visit to the city of Cambridge and the famous university and a London day trip to see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London and Trafalgar Square. In the final match of the tour the Spartans again put into practice many of the lessons learned from the guest coaches and came away with a 17-17 draw with Broxbourne.