George Watson's College 1st XV squad enjoyed a wonderful trip to South Africa at the end of the School holidays. The tour was based in and around the Cape Town area where the boys were initially based at the Rugby Performance Centre for intensive training and preparation for their opening match. This proved an exciting encounter against Swartland High School where they produced a tremendous comeback to win 32 – 31 and survived a last minute penalty attempt.
After this they moved into Cape Town where they ended up sharing a hotel with the South African Schools’ team. The size of these boys was an eye opener to them all. They watched South Africa Schools sneak past England U18 as they prepared for their second match versus Wynberg High School.
George Watson's have a twenty-year exchange programme with Wynberg and they were able to meet up with many old gap year students and members of the Cape Town Watsonian Club. The match itself was fiercely contested with GWC going down 9 – 12, this time missing a last minute penalty, which would have tied the score. After some wonderful hospitality and a traditional Brai they headed off to Newlands to watch Western Provence versus the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup.
A couple of days of tourist activities followed and the boys visited Table Mountain, the Aquila Game Reserve and participated in a boat trip to Seal Island. Unfortunately the planned outing to Robben Island was cancelled due to high winds. The group paid a visit to the Langa Township, and then the Goedgedacht Trust where they worked with children caught in the poverty trap and donated money which the boys had raised from car washing and bag packing.
The last leg of the tour was in Paarl, about 30 miles outside of Cape Town. A rugby mad town it is home to two of the biggest rugby schools in the country. The recent derby between Paarl Boys and Paarl Gim was live on TV and attracted a paying crowd of 30,000! Here the group met some more excellent hospitality… and some exceptionally wet weather. This wet weather was so severe it forced the cancellation of the last scheduled match. Unfortunate as this was the first match that the Paarl Boys can ever remember having to cancel. This proved the only disappointment in an otherwise fantastic tour.
All the boys benefitted from the tour both on and off the pitch. Their lasting memories will be of the sheer happiness of the boys at the Goedgedach Trust when they played touch rugby with them; and of a fanatical sporting country, where school rugby, in particular, is held in the highest of esteem.