Having won the Leinster U14 Premier Division League final the squad, their coaches and parents left for the end of season tour to Biarritz “au couer du Pays Basque”. Arriving last Saturday afternoon we were whisked away by our tour guides the two Seans (Hegearty and Spring – a Maori All Black and cousin of Donal and Dick Spring!) to the home gound of Basque rugby club Mouguerre.
The lads played three 20 minute full contact friendly matches against our hosts and two teams from Valladolid club El Salvador. The sun shone and the rugby was fast and furious. The ground was hard but the craic was mighty. The welcome given Lansdowne players, coaches and parents from Mouguerre and El Salvador rugby clubs was exceptional. Rugby wins again.
Early the next morning the tour party was brought to Bayonne rugby club’s academy pitch. A more picturesque location for training is hard to imagine. After a great session and a raucous rendition of a Haka, taught and lead by our Maori tour guide Sean, we left for the village of Bidarray, high in the Pyrennes, patrolled by hawks with 6ft wingspans. The early afternoon was spent white water rafting on the close by river Nive. Much fun was had. Everyone fell, was pushed or jumped in. No one left dry but all were safe and happy.
Biarritz’s local Anglet beach is famous for its waves and that’s where the lads headed next morning for surfing. All managed to get up on the board and fall back in. After lunch we had some some free time. Roo suggested tip rugby on Biarritz’s beach front for the boys. Little did he know it would not be long until tackles flew in and that he would be hit illegally and cruelly late by a fellow parent/coach. Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose.
That final night we dined at local rugby hero David Roumieu’s restaurant where we and head coach Olivier met French rugby legend and hero Christophe “Titou” Lamaison. The seminal 12/10 starred in the 1999 World Cup semi-final at out-half against the All Blacks. France won 43-31 in one of the biggest upsets in world cup history. Titou scored a try, set up a couple and got all his kicks. To say Olivier was pleased to him is an understatement. Just look at the photo below.
Titou means “of the family”, “valuable”, “priceless”. That is what Olivier and all @lansdownefc minis and youths have been to this 2008 squad of young rugby players since they were six or seven years old. Thanks to Olivier, Roo, Johnny and all the players, coaches, parents and friends who got behind the squad over the years.
We are grateful for the support of our sponsors and the dedication of our tour committee. Archie, Bryan, Darren, Donal, Endo, Jane, James, Malachy, Marika, Michael, Morgan, Niamh, Niall, Paul (x2), Ronan, Roz, Susan and all the parents. It would not have happened without you.
Tour report: Odran Graby