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Down High will return to Northern Ireland with another unbeaten run on tour!!
The boys won today in emphatic style beating Saint Edwards school from Oxford 59-12. This was a great end to the rugby on tour and for quite a number their swansong in the Down High Shirt! Well done boys!
It's not ideal to start with an apology again but internet facilties have been scarce at the University of British Columbia where we've been based since Wednesday so sorry for the lack of updates.
It's been a busy few days.
The whale watching on Tuesday was fun although we had to travel pretty far away from Victoria on the speedboats to see them. We caught up with a spectacular pod of Orcas just off Pender Island. Some of the boys marvelled the staff with their ability to sleep on the speedboats on the way home.
Our second game agains the Crimson Tide went well with the boys recording a convincing win and us emerging injury free. Match report to follow!
On Wednesday we took a beautful ferry ride to Vancouver and so far the boys have shopped a good bit, played in the swimming pool at the campus, cycled (at some pace!) around Stanley Park and of course trained most days. A highlight for everyone though was last night when we went to Empire Field to watch the BC Lions plays the Calgary Stampedes. Sadly the Lions lost but it was a tight game and the boys loved the atmosphere and all the added extras that come with a football game.
Our rugby planned for Vancouver hit some problems earlier in the week when the Vancouver Rowing club pulled out of our fixture with them. Thankfully some of our contacts came to our aid and managed to arrange a fixture for us....although it is a little different for tour. Today the boys will travel back to Vancouver Island to play Saint Edwards School from Oxford (yes UK Oxford!). It's a unique tour experience that the boys are really looking for to. Mr Gunson is keen to maintain his unbeaten record on North American tours so hopefully the news later will be good.
After the game the boys will be having their end of tour dinner before packing up and shipping out early in the morning for Seattle to start the long plane journey home (we expect there may be a few overweight bags!)
Apologies for the lack of updates folks....internet access has been scarce. We're now in the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island.
Seattle finished on a high with the victory against the Washington Loggers (Match Report below). After the game the boys also had a great time interacting with the local lads over a bbq and some American Football for those that still had some energy left to burn! It was nice to get off to a winning start. (The university computers won't let me upload photos but you can see lots of match day shots @ https://picasaweb.google.com/105121552474638229172 Courtesy of Matt Carrithers)
The trip to Victoria on the Clipper ferry was a little lumpy at times but for most that seemed to add to the enjoyment! Last night they had a chance to do some shopping, eating and sightseeing in Downtown Victoria.
This morning we took an action packed trip through the treetops on the Ziplining Course outside Victoria. Everyone had a fantastic time and all made it back to ground safely!
We're now just about to train for an hour on the University 3G pitch in preparation for our game against Vancouver Island's representative side, Crimson Tide . That game takes place tomorrow night!
Down High 1XV opened their 2011 tour of USA & Canada with a nailbiting 27 - 26 victory against Washington State Loggers U19's (a representative side including 3 USA U13 internationals drawn from clubs throughout Washington).
The match was played in very hot conditions and both sides rotated their squads extensively throughout the match. Down High settled quickly and opened the scoring after 10 minutes when outhalf Justin Rea cut through to scored an unconverted try.
This was shortly followed by a try by Jason Patterson in the right hand corner after some swift handling by the backline, Rea adding the conversion to give the tourists a 12-0 lead. The Down High forwards were on top at this stage with and from a driving maul Patrick Gifford forced his way over to extend the lead to 17-0. This seemed to spur the Loggers into life and they began to impose their physical advantage and they reduced the deficit just before half time with a converted try by their USA U19 international full back to leave the score 17-7 at the interval.
Down High began the second positively with Matthew McKeown finishing in the corner. Rea added the conversion to take the score to 24 - 7. There then followed a 12 minute period of sustained Loggers pressure as the visitors began to wilt in the heat. The home team ran and carried superbly scoring three tries and two conversions to take a 26 - 24 lead as the game moved into the dying minutes. One final drive from the Down High took play deep into the Loggers half resulting in a penalty being awarded to the visitors when Washington infringed at a ruck. There were only seconds remaining on the clock when Justin Rea struck the successful kick and when Down High secured the restart and cleared to touch the final whistle sounded to secure a fine 27 - 26 win for the visitors.
This was a very physical battle and sets the standard for the remainder of the tour with the Down High boys moving on to Victoria for their second match on Tuesday.
Well the fun continues on tour. On our bus downtown yesterday we had some magical moments when the boys entertained the locals with a whole lot of singing. The bus driver and many of her patrons (and indeed many at bus stops along the route in downtown Seattle) appeared to be enjoying the experience of hearing a Northern Irish rugby team in full flow.
We witnessed a home victory at last night's ball game when the Mariners beat the Padre's 6-0. It was a great experience for the boys. The view out of the Stadium was immense with the downtown skyline on one side and the snow covered Mount Ranier on the other. We did also enjoy the game in the company of our hosts from the Washington Loggers. They're a very hospitable bunch and there was lots of friendly banter about today's game.
With kick off in 3 hours time the boys are currently relaxing about the University. Hopefully we'll be reporting back later with our first tour victory!
We're now on day 3 and the boys have packed a lot in...not least on the food front! After training yesterday we took a bus downtown before boarding the lively 'Seattle Duck Tour' which saw the boys singing and shouting their way through/over the streets and lakes of Seattle! After the duck tour we headed upwards to enjoy some fantastic panoramic views from the Space Needle, Seattle's unique height experience. The remainder of the evening was spent in the downtown area with the boys topping up their wardrobes at a few well known stores!
Today has been busy too. After breakfast we held our last training session before the game tomorrow and it went really well - the boys are ready for action. We spent the rest of the morning checking out the University's outstanding sports facilities and even managed to play some improvised American football on the pitch in the 70,000 seater, Huskies stadium. We finished the morning off in the swimming pool where the boys showed off their gymnastic skills on the diving board (some with more grace than others ...Mr Gunson!).
Tonight we spend some time in the company of our hosts from 'The Loggers' and will be going to Saefco field to watch the Seattle Mariners take on the Padres. You couldn't beat it!
Well we all made it across the Atlantic ok and reached Seattle late last night. The boys didn't take long to fall asleep but woke up early for their 'all you can eat' breakfast at the University of Washington. We're going to train this morning before heading downtown for some sightseeing!
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