Waking up at 6am, training on holidays, failing all our tests, listening to Hugh pump us up, trying to understand Les, bruises, cuts and tears. All this work led up to one incredible weekend. The preparation for this tournament had been an strenuous journey, however each player was prepared come 9:40 Friday morning where East took on the host school in our first game. Even before we stepped on the pitch we suffered setbacks. We lost Liam Clews to dengue fever the day before leaving. A disappointing outcome, however it seemed that each player saw this as an indicator to step up their game to cover the loss of such a talented player.
The 19U’s team was a very tight unit before coming to SEASAC, yet this experience definitely brought us closer. The first night, the team found a sense of purpose in a team talk. As a captain, Hugh knew that each player would be anxious before the tournament. The team talk not only helped control each player's nerves, however he reminded us of the responsibility of wearing the green and white. “Boys this is your Everest” were Hugh's words as the entire room fell silent knowing that we were capable of claiming this championship. Although, our most sarcastic member XanderHoskinson didn’t understand why we were talking about hiking, all the boys were ready to answer to the call.
We were in a very difficult pool coming into SEASAC, with two crucial pool games on day one of the tournament. We managed to stage a come from behind victory against Patana in game one. However, were unlucky to lose out to Tanglin Trust School 12-7 in one of the best games of the tournament. East finished the day with two convincing victories to qualify second overall in our pool. We finished Friday's game knowing we would have a difficult game against Dover in the morning.
Each member of the team really stood up throughout the tournament. Scott Nies, was able to really follow the game plan and have our team on the front foot when attacking. Hugues Martin DitNeuville was constantly supplying quick ball to the backs, and on defence he was able to disrupt other scrum halves constantly. Powerful forwards such as Grant Bourdon and Hugh Goovaerts provided a presence in defence and the break down which was crucial in our style of play. A fun team bonding session on Friday night was what the boys needed. There is never a dull moment when players like Alan Griffin, Gaspard Nguyen and AbrielSirgear are around.
We entered the finals with a real spring in our step knowing we were playing Dover. Their boys really stepped up and played one of the best games of the year, in the end coming out with the win. One of the highlights of the trip was the whole UWCSEA huddle which really was a memorable moment for all players. This was the farthest any East rugby team had made it since the school opened in 2012. The boys were so proud and so were the coaches. We gave it everything we could in the final however came out with a disappointing outcome. Although, our final performance was not what we wanted, each player knew they could come home with their heads up high knowing how much we had achieved.
Personally it was the best sports tour I have ever been apart of and I know that is the same for the majority of the boys. So many amazing times both on and off the pitch. A special mention is needed for our two senior players David Boot and Dylan Ah Teck. They really set an example for all the younger boys on the trip and performed exceptionally on the field both scoring an MVP trophy. As their roommate, I was able to spend more time with them and they really are nice and funny guys who just love playing rugby. The whole team hopes they continue playing when they go to university, and they will be missed from the team. The boys will not be able to replace Dylan’s speed on the pitch and David's presence at the break time. We will always have their back. Special thanks to Coach Les, Mr Crosby and Coach Dustin who worked extremely hard throughout the whole season, and we would be nowhere without them. Overall SEASAC Rugby 2016 for East was an amazing experience.