College players take rugby skills on tour

Two students at Denstone College have displayed their skills on the rugby pitch during a tour of the USA.

Harry Pegg and Nathan Cyster toured America with the Lambs tour as part of the Independent Schools National Team.

Harry has shared his account of the England Lambs rugby tour of America 2015:

“It was a Friday morning in London Heathrow where 26 of us stood ready for the trip of a lifetime

After check-in, when Nathan asked not the brightest of questions and managed to get lost twice, it was time to board the plane to San Francisco.

After travelling 11 hours on the plane we were surprisingly tired and needed to get some sleep in our hotel ready for the first training session of the tour the next day. 

After a very large American breakfast we boarded the coach to Treasure Island rugby club, and saw the sights of San Francisco while traveling.

The heat and humidity hit the boys head first in training and it was long and hot session. After the three hour session we headed back to get showered and went off into down town San Francisco for a spot of lunch and sightseeing.  

Match Day 1: NorCal All Stars

The next day, we travelled back to Treasure Island rugby club where we would have our first fixture.

During warm up we first saw our opposition and what they were like. To our surprise before the match started we proudly sang the national anthem.

After a very physical game to our disappointment we were second best. Afterwards we got together with the opposition where we had chance to socialise and swap contact details. 

The day after the game our physio decided to give us an early morning pool recovery session, which some backs decided to miss due to them not handling the cold pool.

After this we had a relaxed day where we had some opportunities to do some tourist activities such as walking along “Fisherman’s Wharf” and going on a rocket boat around the bay whilst getting soaked in the process.

We also had our first squad meal together at “Pompeii’s Ghetto” which we really enjoyed and then headed back for some sleep. 

After another huge, all-you-can-eat breakfast in the hotel we had to pack up and move on to the next destination in the schedule which was the incredibly hot and dry city of Sacramento.

When we finally arrived at the hotel we had a training session straight away on the hotel car park where we went through our different moves and tactics ready for the match the following day.

After the session we showered and changed ready for an evening in old Sac. That evening we found a good old fashioned American bar and chowed down on some good old fashioned food which included blue cheese burgers, jack cheese burgers, Philadelphia cheese steak burgers, calamari rings, three different types of buffalo wings and a mountain of fries (that was all just between six of us). 

After eating some of the boys stayed behind to join in a karaoke contest before taking some taxis back to the hotel. 

Match Day 2: Jesuit High School

A smaller, more tactical breakfast was on the cards that morning as the boys had learned from the previous match day morning.

The coach journey was a short and sharp one and the boys got changed straight away and went onto the pitch. The atmosphere during training was huge with some classic tunes playing in the background.

The match started on a much better foot than the previous match, with the two wingers Elliot Hall and Toby Eaton scoring tries within a ten minute period.

More pressure was applied by the Lambs which ended up with an interception try by James Nettleton.

And going into half time we were 19-3 up. However Jesuit came out flying in the second half and scored an early try almost off the kick off which brought the scores much closer. 

The Lambs soon closed out the game by scoring one more try in the dying minutes and winning the game with a final score of 24-10.

Another post match function event was then enjoyed by the team and more snapchat names were shared with the American guys.

We all then got back onto the nice air conditioned coach and had an easy well deserved ride back to the hotel and rested our weary heads after a long and and physical match. 

To combat the soreness of the previous night Liz the physio insisted that we all had an early morning pool session before breakfast.

At which point Rob (the tour manager) told us the plan for the rest of the day, which was an organised trip to Lake Tahoe and a squad meal at the Hard Rock Cafe.

So we all packed the essentials for the day and started our long journey to the lake, which the locals in Sacramento refer to as the "The Puddle".

But when we finally got there, it was far from just a mere puddle, it was an awe inspiring sight of pure beauty and nature with the Rocky Mountain range in the background. Every single one of the boys took lots of pictures.

We stopped off at a town called Heavenly where we all went off in our separate groups and wandered around with some buying some souvenirs along the way. A memorable event of that morning was the debate that I had with the candy shop lady about the difference between the UK and American Milky Way bar.

After which the whole squad rejoined for the squad meal at the Hard Rock Cafe. We set off from Lake Tahoe at around 9pm and got back to the hotel at around midnight. 

Match Day 3: Westlake School (New Zealand) 

The location for this match was not the best of pitches but the boys got over this fact quickly and easily got into the swing of things with pre-match training looking very promising

And it was such an occasion when Westlake performed the Haka in front of us before the match.

But we Lambs would not be scared by a mere Haka and went straight into the game with blood pumping and adrenaline coursing through our veins.

After the Kiwis took an early lead through a penalty, we bounced back and scored a well-earned try to bring the score up to 7-3 and then more pressure was applied onto Westlake before the Lambs came up with the goods again to increase their lead to 12-3 at the half.

But again the Lambs took a nap after the interval and Westlake scored a cheeky try just outside the posts to bring the scores closer.

The Lambs responded with a good team try off the back of a scrum and increased the score to 17-10.

Westlake would not give up, and after scoring another converted try to equal the match they went on to score a try in the final play and snatched a victory from under the Lambs’ sleeping noses.

But after the match the boys still mingled in with their former opponents and another successful post match function followed.

Again an early pool recovery session was waiting for the boys before breakfast after which packing had to be done as we were flying to Seattle that afternoon.

The flight was easy enough with the boys enjoying the free in flight Wi-Fi. After touching down in Seattle we had an easy enough 30 minute transfer to the hotel, en route passing famous landmarks including Pike Place Market, Starbucks HQ, and the Space Needle. But to be honest all we wanted to do when we got to the hotel was sleep and get ready for the match the following day.

Match day 4: Washington Loggers (Presidents XV)

This was the match that everyone was looking forward to the most, being played on a state of the art 4g pitch. With three professional IRB referees this game was set to be a cracker.

In the starting few moments the Lambs again carried on the tour tradition of going down three points through a penalty. 

However after that it was all Lambs. We applied massive amounts of pressure all match and ended up scoring 69 points to the Loggers’ 13. It was so good to end the tour and the season on a huge positive.

Post-match functions followed with everyone receiving a gift courtesy of the Loggers and we hopped on the bus back home.

At the hotel there was a short end of tour presentation after which everyone boarded the coach into Seattle to grab some food after another long and physical day.

The day after was the final day of the tour. Everyone had mixed feelings of looking forward to seeing people at home and at the same time not wanting to leave America.  Strong bonds have been made in the team and players did not want to break them.

However all good things must come to an end and they did so in delightful fashion as the boys were allowed to wander the city and do a spot of shopping. There was also the option of going up the Space Needle, to see the wonderful sights the city has to offer. 

The plane journey was another long one and the jetlag was hitting us hard straight away as we left the plane, but we were all sorry to say our goodbyes and end our trip of a lifetime.”

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