We can look back on another successful tour both on and off the pitch.
Our bijou caravan site was on the edge of the charming port of Brixham near Torquay on Devon’s south coast.
It was the perfect base for our activities (drinking expeditions into town) and its modest amenities were ample for us and our 70 co-campers from Frampton Cotterell’s mini rugby section (plus the young family of four who booked in when we did and were a bit taken aback to find out just how many rugby folk they would be sharing their hard-earned weekend with).
Well, while being under the Official (Rugby Tour) Secrets Act and therefore restricted as to what can be related about off-field shenanigans, we can reflect freely on some excellent on-field performances.
I must first apologise for the delay in producing this tour diary, but your writer has been under the weather since returning from our Devon adventures. It seems the regular doses of “medication” received from the tour doctor did nothing for the immune system and I’ve felt the full force of (old) man flu.
As a result I’ve had some very strange dreams during my feverish nights this past week and I’m finding it a little difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.
Was one member of our party being stalked by a 6ft 2in slightly mannish-looking blonde? Or was that just a dream? Did another member have a twinkle in his eye for an 85-year-old Joan Rivers lookalike? Or was that just a night terror? Did an intruder find their way into one of our caravans and make himself sick before cleaning it up with Domestos? No, it was one of the occupants and they both blame each other. Are women only on tour to drive men to the pubs and do the cleaning? No, Gary!
Anyway, to the most important business – the boys’ two matches.
First up on the Saturday morning was a Totnes team that our internet researchers found to have only lost one game all season.
With just 14 players fit enough to start, we were braced for a rough ride.
But we were given a big lift on arriving at the ground by the sight of Monty, which took us up to 15 players.
It was a cagey start with both teams trying to establish their authority. But we then put together some good handling, moving the ball from one side of the pitch to the other to create an opening for a try by Elliott, which he converted.
It would take a long time to describe all the tries, which no one would read. So, to be brief, we went on to score through Matt (2), Monty, Dom, Louis, Ben and Ryley to win by 54-7.
Elliott gave a superb kicking display to knock over 6 conversions, while Ryley surprised us and the opposition by converting his own try with the last kick of the game.
Our generous hosts fed us all with a lovely pasta dish - and it’s worth mentioning that the kitchen and bar staff were wonderful.
A court session followed in the Totnes clubhouse. Reporting restrictions apply. But there was no mercy shown by “hang ‘em high” Judge Nick.
As each of the accused was dragged up before the baying mob, the scales of justice were swayed first one way and then the other by Steve, prosecuting, and Nancy, mitigating – both fetchingly donning barrister’s wigs (see tour pics on the website). But everyone was found guilty anyway – in advance, one suspects.
Punishments for such crimes as bringing a One Direction duvet cover on tour (allegedly belonging to a sister) included fiendishly hot wasabi crackers and super sour sweets. While the dreaded contents of Dr Gary’s medicine chest were liberally administered to the adults.
It’s probably fair to say everyone was a bit jaded on the Sunday morning as we arrived at Paignton RFC, just yards from the seafront.
But you wouldn’t have been able to tell, as we got off to perhaps the best start of any game this season.
It was breathtaking. We spread the ball wide, recycled, spread the ball the other way, recycled, and probably did it again before Ryley barrelled over.
And so it went on from there. Some truly entertaining and skilful rugby brought us a 73-0 win, with another outstanding kicking display from Elliott to help push up the total.
Our other tries came through Sam R (3), Matt (2), Louis (2), Dom (2), and Owen.
There was an emotional and unforgettable end to the match as Michael was honoured by being applauded through the Paignton tunnel.
And so that wrapped up a thoroughly enjoyable tour.
A quick trip to the beach produced some interesting sand graffiti and then we headed off home, apart from a few hardcore tourists who kept the Clifton flag flying in the pubs of Brixham.