Yuill Irvine reflects on a fantastic final tour for the 2019 P7 Warriors
Wednesday 10 April 2019 saw the 25 Watsonian Warriors and 24 Dads head to Bordeaux for a four day tour to celebrate the end of their Warriors journey that began for many 6 years previous in P2.
After a brief stop at Birmingham, the Dads and lads arrived at Bordeaux Airport and set off on their coach to Eymet where the tough challenges of local rugby clubs Eymet and Montemart awaited. We arrived at the Eymet Rugby Club to be greeted by wonderful welcome and all were treated to the most amazing French hospitality by a brilliant local French club.
Jack Cockburn and Sandy Power piped the two Warriors teams on for their games and after some great rugby both Warriors teams came through triumphantly with winning displays in all their games despite some pretty hard opposition. The club treated all to post match hospitality and we presented two WFC plaques to the clubs along with some malt whisky. The plaques were to be placed on the wall next to a Scotland strip that had been presented to local legend Dominique Erbani (French back row , 46 caps 1981-90) - the whisky we fear didn’t last that long!
Afterwards we checked into our riverside Gites before walking into the beautiful village of Eymet for a well earned Italian meal.
Some pretty tired dads and lads after a long day!
Day 2 –
Day two was a training day and after a brief breakfast we headed up the river for a kayaking experience not be forgotten.
The guide was quite clear that we were to kayak down the river for 10 km and to enjoy a relaxed pace. It was not a race. Alas a few over zealous parents, presumably in an attempt to relive some childhood failings, went off like Steve Redgrave. For the others a beautiful trip down the river for 2 hours enjoying stunning views took place.
After a brief packed lunch it was back to the stunning surroundings of the accommodation for an hours training before we headed for a 7 course French gastronomique experience for all.
Duck gizzards galore and endless wine ensured a fun evening before heading back to the Gites.
Day 3 -
Day three was always going to be the big day.
Top French team Saint Foy la Grand awaited us.
Unbeaten in 6 years their U13 team was sure to prove a challenge.
We headed to visit the beautiful Chateau de Monbazillac before a relaxing afternoon go-karting.
Again over zealous parents got too involved however the boys had a ball and relaxed in the sun before heading for the big one.
We arrived at St Foy Stadium. A beautiful facility for the Regions top team. Coaches Kelly and Cockburn had the boys built up into near frenzy when they were piped out.
The games commenced and in all my years of watching Warriors rugby (16 years!) I have never seen such focused, intense and simply wonderful running rugby with both teams beating the two St Foy teams including “the invincibles”!
Again wonderful hosting and hospitality with the French boys all interacting and chatting before a lovely presentation and post match reception. We later headed for an evening meal before a well earned sleep.
Day 4 -
Saturday saw us head back into Bordeaux for a cultural tour of the city before we headed for the top 14 game between Bordeaux and Castres. The game was out of this world. Not just the rugby but the whole atmosphere.
The boys played the pipes and were celebrated throughout the game. After some lovely experiences after the game with the club band we headed to check into our hotel for the last night.
Our last meal was in a stunning French cellar restaurant and after the meal Judge Balfour handed out the tour fines with each kid getting the opportunity to defend their Dad. Some were keener than others. Some happy for their old man to be guilty. One thing is for sure, it will be a trip never to be forgotten. Memories are in the heart for a lifetime......Sunday saw the weary trip home with an even closer bond between a special group of Dads and lads.
From all of us, thanks to everyone who helped to make this trip such a success, including those who helped us with our fundraising efforts throughout the year.