Bloxham School Sports Tour to South Africa 2016 - Blog
Wednesday 27th July
Bloxham v Bredasdorp High School, Western Cape
Sixth (and final) netball matches: Bloxham A: 11-22 Bloxham B: 23-15
Following a morning at the southern point of Cape Agulhas and an authentic fish and chip lunch we arrived at Bredasdorp High School, which is perched high above this quaint town.
With wet courts from a heavy storm, play was delayed slightly while the teams swept away as much surface water as they could. Soon, however, the sun shone and the matches were able to begin. The girls were the opposition team were very friendly (and they had even prepared pancakes for us as a wet weather alternative to netball!)
The games commenced and both Bloxham teams found their opposition sides to be strong and very tall, particularly the A team. The As started off determinedly, but missed goal opportunities were punished. The girls picked up after half time, however, the Bredasdorp's tall Goal Shooter proved too much and the match finished 22-11 to the Bredasdorp side.
The B team fought well during the first half of their match and the teams went into the break pretty much neck and neck. However, an inspiring half time pep talk and a few useful pointers saw the girls turn the match around and dominate throughout the second half to win 23-15 – their fourth win of the tour!
Player of the match:
A Team: Annabel G
B Team: Hannah C
Quote of the day: Strut your stuff and finish strong
Interesting fact: Cape Agulhas is the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Bloxham v Bredasdorp High School
Sixth (and final) rugby match: 24-22
After the disappointment of the boys' match against Parel Valei School being cancelled on 26th July, they were all very much looking forward to their final match of the tour.
Watched by three sets of Bloxham families (Chapman, Beament and Fitzgibbon) and by the netball girls, the boys' final match Bredasdorp High School ended in a thrilling climax and a victory which owed a lot to the determination of the senior players in the side. Bloxham played to a successful pattern in the first half and led 17-6 at the interval thanks to well taken tries from Jack B and Sam J, both converted by Jake M, who also slotted a penalty in a much-improved kicking performance. The only response was two penalties from Bredasdorp's kicker, but his boot was an ominous weapon and, sure enough, the home side started to claw back the points after half time thanks to a succession of penalties. These penalties were a result of the Bloxham boys finding it hard to cope with the referee's interpretation of the laws and displaying some poor discipline – a vital lesson for all to learn, especially on tour. A converted home try shortly after half time, deliriously celebrated by a big crowd, brought Bredasdorp to within four points, and three penalties then gave them a five point lead, 22-17. It seemed as though the tour would end in defeat, but somehow from the restart the Bloxham forwards got the side within reach of the try line and Jack B crashed over for a try which Jake M converted. Bloxham hung on for three nervous minutes to win the game 24-22.
Tries: Jack B (2), Sam J. Conversions: Jake M (3). Penalty: Jake M
Played 5, won 4, lost 1, points for 137, points against 105.
Bloxham's tour party won four of their five tour matches, the only defeat coming against a fast and skilful township side who ultimately ran away with what was a close game until the last quarter. In the other matches, an experienced touring party containing ten Upper Sixth Formers stood up well to the physical challenge set by the home sides, who invariably employed a predictable and direct style of play based on forward power and big midfield runners. The loss of leading try scorer George C to concussion in the third game was a blow, but in the final match at Bredasdorp, it was the side's senior players, especially Jack B, who ensured that Bloxham squeezed home with a last minute try. Special mention should be made of the front row of Toby C, Will B and George D who, yet again, provided the core of the side's strength. Particular credit to George D, who played every second of every game on a gruelling tour. The cancellation due to a waterlogged pitch of one of the games may actually have been something of a blessing. It is to be hoped that the 13 Lower Sixth Formers will have learnt some important lessons on the tour, not least the need for discipline and cool heads, for accurate goal-kicking and for total concentration in defence. Jack B ended as the top try scorer with five, closely followed by George B and George C with four each.
Tour party: Will A, George B, Will B, Alex B, Will B, Jack B, George C, Toby C, Jake D, George D, Keiran F, Tarquin H, Sam J, Oliver K, Charlie M, Jake M, George M, Jack R, Jonty R-R, Fraser S, Toby S, Roland S, Nick v S.
Tuesday 26th July
Bloxham v Parel Vallei School, Somerset West
Fifth netball matches: Bloxham A: 15-31 Bloxham B: 24-15
Following a night billeted in a lovely residential area, the tour group spent a fantastic morning surfing at Muizenberg!!
We then moved on to Parel Vallei High School to play our fifth game, which was almost as wet as the surfing! The A team played first inside in their sports hall. This really was a game of two halves - the girls went behind early on, boosting Parel's confidence, and the first half ended at 21-5. The whole team recognised they needed to step up and show a winning mentality in order to compete and the girls achieved two very close quarters in the second half of the match. Georgie M looked confident in the circle and was ably helped by Issy Y in Wing Attack. Working hard in defence Olivia M kept the pressure on and limited the opposition's options in the circle. A much better score line of 10-12.
The B team's game was divided into halves and the girls showed great mental and physical strength throughout, led by their captain, Eliza. It was 11-11 at half time, leaving the girls with everything to play for in the second. The girls played a great match, showing determination and tenacity throughout whilst making very few errors, and deserved their 24-15 victory. Ellie W had an incredible game, scoring 19/21 shots, aided by strong support from Holly K.
Both matches were well supported by the Parel students, our rugby boys (whose match was rained off) and a surprise for Issy Y in the shape of an unexpected visit from relatives!
Player of the match:
A Team: Georgie M
B Team: Elena C
Quote of the day : Be shark smart
Interesting fact: The 26th July was recorded as the wettest day of the year in SA.
Saturday 23rd July 2016
Bloxham v Paulus Joubert Secondary School, Paarl
Fourth netball matches - Bloxham A v U18: 15-22 Bloxham B v U16: 16-23
The Bloxham netballers’ fourth fixture saw them play in the beautiful backdrop of Paulus Joubert in the Paarl District, surrounded by mountains.
During the first quarter, the A team did very well in the defence and finished the quarter at 3-3. The second quarter saw some poor decision making amongst the Bloxham team, costing them precious goals to finish at 6-12. A huge improvement during the third quarter of the match brought the girls back into the game but, unfortunately, a few tough calls and Paulus Joubert’s ability to raise their game again saw Bloxham lose with a score line of 15-22.
The B team had by far their best match of the tour against Paulus Joubert, showing great determination and commitment. The entire match was hugely competitive but enjoyable. The Paulus Joubert U16 team actually included three girls who had also been playing in the U18 match, who are clearly young and very talented. The teams were drawing at half time, having scored 10 goals apiece, and that score paid credit to the quality of the girls’ netball. Good shooting by all and strong mid court play meant that the Bloxham girls were in it to win it. However, their opponents, with impressive running and jumping to enable them to intercept the ball from nowhere, were able to dominate at points. The match ended with a Paulus Joubert win, but a very creditable result for our B team 16-23.
Player of the Match:
A Team: Georgie M
B Team: Alenka Y
Interesting facts: The local churches use brown sherry as their communion wine and welcome congregations of up to 1000 worshippers.
1400 students study at Paulus Joubert Secondary School.
Quote of the day: “Nutritious delicious”
"The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." Nelson Mandela
We were then hosted by the teams and enjoyed South African style soup, salad and sweet doughnuts. It was a very different culture that was on display during this part of the tour and an amazing experience for everyone.
Bloxham v Paulus Joubert Secondary School
Fourth rugby match: 15-44
Bloxham's 1st XV rugby squad lost for the first time on tour with a sobering 44-15 defeat against a Paulus Joubert side full of exciting runners who taught us the importance of tackling and support play. The game was close right up until the last ten minutes, when a tired touring side collapsed and the home side added three more tries. Bloxham scored tries through George B (who also earned Man of the Match on his 18th birthday), Tarquin H and Jack B but, once again, the place kicking was very poor. With a number of key players out due to illness or injury and others looking very tired, this was the first disappointing performance for the boys on tour.
The post-match reception was a splendid occasion with excellent hospitality from a generous township side. The pitch may have been one of the roughest the boys have encountered, and the facilities very different from what they are used to, but it provided a great learning experience.
Since then we have been to Newlands to watch a Super Rugby match, visited Robben Island - an immensely affecting experience - and been to the top of Table Mountain. The tour continues on its breathless way!
Thursday 21st July 2016
Bloxham v Benoni High School, Guateng
Third netball matches - Bloxham A: 20-23 Bloxham B: 16-12
Both teams were greeted by a particularly friendly group of girls on arrival at Benoni High School, all of whom were wearing straw boaters, high heels and had the most amazing plaits that our girls loved. Their smiles and song made us feel so welcome throughout the two days.
The B team started their match extremely well and were able to maintain a two goal lead throughout, although they had to work hard to do so. Captain Eliza R took an early fall but kremained determined and linked the team through centre court. Yet another fantastic game for Ellie W, who scored from every shot bar one. Holly K had a great game too, working alongside Ellie and Hannah C. The B team's defence, comprising Alenka Y and Elena C gave Benoni trouble and saw Alenka manage to completely outplay her opponent.
There was a carnival atmoshpere of singing and chanting as the A side's match began. The girls started well but were unable to maintain consistency throughout. Benoni had some extremely tall players on their side, which caused our girls some trouble and Benoni came back to win after an 18-18 score at half time.
A Team: Ellie J
B Team: Alenka Y
Quote of the day: Stay tight, do it right.
Bloxham v Benoni High School
Third rugby match - 22-10
Bloxham's rugby squad showed enormous fortitude and guts to win a bruising encounter 22-10 against a big and physical Benoni High School side. Benoni stuck to a determined game plan of trying to batter their way through the middle but they found it hard to break through in the face of relentless Bloxham tackling. Bloxham scored three tries in the first half through two well-taken George B tries and a stunning solo effort by George C. The boys knew that Benoni would strike back after half time and so it proved, but an excellent try by captain Ollie K ensured an English victory. This was despite having to defend desperately in the last ten minutes, not helped by a barrage of penalties. The game really was won at the breakdown with flanker Tarquin H oustanding.
This was a memorable match day with a huge and noisy crowd of Benoni pupils watching, and the Bloxham netball girls made sure to make themselves heard after their netball games had ended - the A side lost narrowly 23-20 while the B side won 16-12. After some excellent post-match celebrations, including a traditional braai (barbecue), the tour party now heads off to Cape Town for the second half of the tour. The rugby side is still unbeaten, but many of the boys are starting to find themselves battered and bruised after their recent experience of South African rugby.
Tuesday 19th July 2016
Bloxham v Randburg High School, Johannesburg
Second netball matches - Bloxham A: 7-29 Bloxham B: 19-27
Unfortunately, India W sustained an injury prior to the match so Mrs Heathcote was replaced by Mr Cowley as B team coach. Both teams played against very well-drilled Randburg teams and were unable to match their fitness and determination.
The girls enjoyed their first two nights billeted with the players.
A Team: Olivia M
B Team: Eliza R
Interesting fact : the average class size in South Africa is 45 students.
Quote of the day : Do what you can't.
Bloxham v Randburg High School
Second rugby match - 34-5
The Bloxham boys' second game on tour ended in an ultimately comfortable 34-5 win. Playing a young Randburg side, the chance was taken to start with some of our less experienced players. However, this new combination stuttered and the teams were locked at 5-5 at half time. With some of the older players coming on in the second half, Bloxham proved too strong, adding further tries to the score from Jack B, George B, George C and Jake M, with Jonty R-R converting two.
As the games come thick and fast over the next few days and the South Africans' physical style of play takes its toll, things will get tougher... but the rugby side is currently going very well.
The teams now moves on to Benoni for our next game against the High School there, not to mention river rafting and sand boarding!
Saturday 16th July 2016
Bloxham v Pretoria Harlequins Rugby Club
First rugby match - 42-24
Bloxham's rugby players got their South Africa tour off to a winning start with an exciting 42-24 win against a spirited Harlequins club side in Pretoria on Saturday. Playing in the depths of the South African winter (supposedly), the boys coped well with brilliant sunshine and heat requiring regular drinks breaks. Two tries from well-drilled forward drives from the line out helped Bloxham to a narrow halftime lead before further tries from George C and Sam J, who each scored a brace, ensured a Bloxham win, though poor goal kicking and a couple of spectacular long range tries for the Harlequins made the final score line closer than the game merited. Cheered on by the Bloxham girls, the boys made an impressive start to the tour, with scrum and line out working well, but they know that sterner tests await.
Tries: George C (2), Sam J (2), Tarquin H, Fraser S, George M, Jacob M
Cons: Jonty R-R (1)
Since the game, the tour party have been on safari in Entabeni on the Limpopo, and have already spotted cheetah, white rhino and giraffes on their first game drive. On Monday, they return to Johannesburg for their second matches, against Randberg HS on Tuesday.
Thursday 14th July 2016
Bloxham v St Mary's High School for Girls
First netball matches - Bloxham A: 7-27 Bloxham B: 15-11
Bloxham played their first international game of the tour yesterday, two days after arriving in Johannesburg. The previous day's training had taken place at the University of Pretoria's High Performance Centre, alongside the New Zealand cricket team, which was very exciting!
We arrived at St Mary's School, Waverly, to a beautifully warm welcome from our opposition. After getting changed, the team took to the court to warm up in their brand new netball dresses. The afternoon sun was hot and, within minutes, we were sweating... whilst our South African hosts were dressed in woolly tights, scarves and fleeces!
The A team played first and were given a shock in the starting quarter, with the flowing passes and athleticism of the St Mary's girls seeing them take nine goal lead without us getting the ball near our D. 12-1 down at the first break, it looked like we were in for a hard game but the girls took the game by the scruff of the neck, showing amazing determination as they went out in the next quarter. Annabel G worked hard against their Goal Shooter, by forcing her high and applying pressure on the 3ft mark. Goal Defence Liv ran her player hard to the sidelines, working like a terrier to force mistakes, whilst Rose at Wing Defence began to chip away at the amount of ball their fast Wing Attack was getting. Georgie came on as Goal Shooter and used her angles well and we started getting ball into the D. That quarter was a 7-2 loss, so a dramatic difference to the first - well done girls! We owned the third quarter, with Izzy Y producing accurate shots, Ellie J showing beautiful movement in the D to tackle an amazing St Mary's defence and Immy and Charlotte linking well together and using the centre pass plays we had worked on in training. Despite working hard in the fourth quarter, we couldn't just get the ball in the net to make an impact on the scoreline, but everyone can be really proud of how they played and the effort they put in, right to the final whistle.
Bloxham B team were up next and exceeded all expectations, playing a hugely competitive game and winning narrowly by four goals. Captain Eliza R kept the team connected through centre court with Hannah C, Ellie W and Holly K playing well in attack - Ellie, particularly, was shooting very well under pressure. St Mary's were also strong and kept us under pressure and managed to equalise in the last minutes of the game. Elena C, Alenka Y, India W and Frankie H were great in defence and gave everything to the team.
Thank you to St Mary's for a fantastic game, a wonderful after-game song and lovely post match hospitality. We were served a match tea of biltong, milk tarts and cans of coke - just what we needed and the girls were very appreciative. We received a gift each from of their coaches, and our tour Captain Ellie J said a few words and awarded the Bloxham shield to St Mary's Captains and Player's Player.
What a great experience and thanks to St Mary's for such a warm welcome - it was a fantastic start to our Sports Tour and a great feeling of achievement for all.
A Team: Immy for her maintaining a strong work rate against a very good opposing Centre.
B Team: Ellie W for her consistency through the game.
Fun fact: Today's temperature was 18°F (-7°C) - the coldest day of winter this year!
Quote of the day: Don't be a rhino, be a lion.
Don't forget that you can follow the progress of the Sports Tour via their Twitter profile.