Take 24 teenage boys from various backgrounds and teach them the game of rugby, and what is the result?
A successful team and long-lasting friendships according to Dave Crofts, tour manager of the Bermuda U14 rugby team that returned from a successful tour to Trinity College School in Port Hope Ontario, Canada over the weekend.
The U14 team visited the school with a young squad of 24 players [50% are U13] which was assembled after the regular rugby season which finished in late March. The squad consisted of students from seven different schools on the island and by the end of the tour, it was clear that some really strong and lasting friendships had been made.
The choice of Trinity College School [TCS] in Port Hope, Ontario as a tour destination was something of a natural one. Bermudians have been attending TCS for over 100 years, there are currently 11 students from Bermuda studying at TCS and the school has a very strong rugby program.
Nicholas Da Costa vs TCS:
The squad went through 6 weeks of intensive training [3 days a week] under an experienced group – head coach Patrick Topley [Mariners] and assisted by Mark Pomeroy [Mariners], David Cooke [Teachers], Andrew Cook [Renegades], Garth Lorimer-Turner, David Crofts and Ian Maule. The tour would not have been possible without the support of the local rugby clubs and parents.
So with all the hard work behind them, it was an excited team that travelled to TCS last Thursday [June 2] and the players were billeted with local families and were reportedly overwhelmed by the hospitality of their hosts with many of the boys now connected and corresponding through Facebook!
We are grateful to all the host families and Doug Mann and his colleagues at TCS for their true Canadian welcome and hospitality. We are discussing a reciprocal trip to Bermuda next year!
Nick Pell vs TCS:
On Friday the Bermuda squad travelled to the school with their host brothers (some on the school bus) in their respective school uniforms and attended a very interesting presentation on the school’s history and the presenters were impressed with the numerous questions and attentiveness of the group.
They then were taken on a tour of the school with members of the graduating class, had a one-hour training session followed by a healthy lunch with the school in Osler Hall. The boys also did their bit for Bermuda tourism by giving out Bermuda Tourism wristbands to the students at lunch as well as to their host families.
Following lunch, it was time to play rugby. On a beautiful sunny afternoon the game against TCS kicked off at 3pm with a good attendance looking forward to watching the teams doing battle.
For some of the Bermuda players, this would be their first “real” game of rugby, so nerves were high. The first half was a pretty even affair with TCS taking the game to Bermuda in the first 15 minutes of the 30 minute half but some strong play by the forwards resulted in tries from rookie Chakote Wainwright –Basden, Tadhg O’Shaughnessy and Will Collins.
Shomuri Simons on the charge vs TCS:
In the second half, the Bermuda teams fitness, which was as good as we’ve ever seen for a touring side (thanks to Andrew Cook and the hills of the Arboretum!), paid dividends and they wore down the opposition with some great support play between the backs and the forwards yielding six more tries from Chakote Wainwright-Basden (2 tries), Sanchay Bean (rookie), Will Collins and Rory Crofts. Rory Crofts who has played many times for Bermuda walked off with a smile on his face as it was his first international try.
Final score was 48-0 which didn’t reflect the efforts of the TCS team throughout the match which was played in a very positive manner and expertly refereed by Mike Stevens whose daughter Rheanne teaches at Somersfield Academy.
But the day was more than about winning; it was about players, coaches and host families from all of the teams enjoying the game and getting to know each other after the game. They sang Happy Birthday to Ben Cook to celebrate his 13th Birthday and then TCS kindly presented their man of the match award to Tadhg O’Shaughnessy.
Following dinner in the TCS dining hall, gifts were exchanged with the coaches Pat Topley and Doug Mann – these included a Bermuda cedar plaque, signed rugby balls, shirts and ties. Later that evening one of the host families (Vivienne and Charles Bonham Carter) hosted all the players and coaches at their house where the boys played sports, relaxed and socialized. Many fond memories of the evening except for the sizeable mosquitoes!
Tadhg O’Shaughnessy on the attack vs Peterborough Pagans:
Saturday’s match was against a strong club side called the Peterborough Pagans and the weather was a complete contrast to Friday’s match. When the island boys awoke to cold rain with some thunder and lightning, they knew it was never going to be an easy day with the game delayed on a number of occasions before and during the match due to lightning.
Despite the weather, there were some crunching tackles and blistering runs from players on both teams. In the first half of the match, everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Bermuda team and 15 minutes into the game they found themselves 19 points down (3 tries) and it wasn’t looking too promising.
To the boy’s credit, the coaching staff and Captain Calum Maule they somehow pulled together as a team and the next 45 minutes was a display of sheer determination and will power. The junior members of the team fed off the passion of the more experienced players such as Nick Da Costa who was a powerhouse in the forwards and they somehow clawed their way back into the game.
Chakote Wainwright Basden and Elijah Richardson in defence vs TCS:
By half time Chakote Wainwright-Basden scored a great try leaving the score at 19-5 in the driving rain – wish we could have brought some back to Bermuda with us!
The second half was mostly Bermuda, again the fitness levels shone through and the great team effort led to tries from Elijah Richardson (rookie) and Sanchay Bean which brought the score to 19-17. The Peterborough side, to their credit, was defending in waves as the Bermuda team camped in their half for the last ten minutes of the game. On a number of occasions, Bermuda came close to crossing the whitewash but the wet conditions didn’t assist and the last pass somehow agonizingly eluded them.
Final score 19-17 and the Bermuda boys and coaches were disappointed especially with victory so close. With the final whistle, both sides congratulated and thanked each other for a hard fought sporting game and were treated to a sideline barbecue while gifts and Bermuda wristbands were exchanged between both sets of coaches and teams. The Pagans presented a club shirt to Tadhg O’Shaughnessy as their man of the match.
Captain Calum Maule putting his body on the line, supported by Denar Johnson, James Collins and Will LT:
Upon reflection that evening, lessons from defeats can be the most valuable and the boys showed in this game the true meaning of teamwork. They all pulled together and fought as a team side by side didn’t take a backward step after going down by 19 points; they showed a lot of pride in wearing their national jersey and they showed sportsmanship in the way they accepted a tough defeat.
The boys had a wonderful experience and the friendships they made as a team and with their hosts will last a lifetime. The tour and the program is about the great game of rugby but it is also about bringing together kids from different family backgrounds, different schools, different economic backgrounds into an arena where they would not otherwise find themselves and encouraging them to work together with people with whom they perhaps would not interact with in their normal day-to-day lives.
Swarms of family and friends greeted the team as the players emerged from the arrivals area at the airport. There were smiles all around, as some of the players were already talking about keeping the team together for training sessions over the summer. Coaches Crofts and Topley very proudly said “This is what rugby is all about and roll on next season!”
The 2011 Bermuda U14 National side was:
- Ferdinand Arnold
- Sanchay Bean
- Isaiah Bell-Phillips
- Shannon Botelho
- Ryan Brown
- William Collins
- James Collins
- Benjamin Cook
- Rory Crofts
- Nicholas Da Costa
- Jahniko Francis
- Denar Johnson
- William Lorimer Turner
- Calum Maule (Captain)
- Tadhg O’Shaughnessy
- James Patterson
- Nicholas Pell
- Charlie Pilgrim
- Elijah Richardson
- Myan Robinson
- Shomuri Simons
- Jonathan Speight
- Cameron Turnbull
- Chakote Wainwright-Basden
-Written by James O’Shaughnessy, photos by Doug Patterson