Busy weekend for Inst's Under-14 rugby players

COLERAINE Inst's Under-14 rugby squad, headed to France for the Irish/France match last Saturday, 13 February, and en route, played a team in Colchester.

The epic journey started from CAI on the Thursday evening, when 20 boys and two staff left for the Liverpool boat from Belfast at 10.30pm. They arrived in Liverpool at 6.ooam and then the group made their way to Colchester where a game had been arranged for 2.30pm with Colchester Royal, Grammar School.

The 20 players all contributed to defeat quite a strong Colchester team who had been looking forward to entertaining the visiting team from Northern Ireland. Three tries were scored by Joel Stanbridge, Luke Scott and Jonny Crowe, but none could be converted, whilst Colchester scored one in reply and put over the conversion to leave CAI the victors by 15-7.

After match pleasantries took place with a CAI plaque being given to the host team and the boys enjoyed a meal provided by the School. As a late ferry crossing from Harwich was next on the Itinerary, the group had time to go to the local cinema and watch a film, and then it was on to Harwich for the journey to Holland!

The Hook arrived at 6.30am and by the time passport control was cleared it was after 8.00am and then the long journey began to Paris. McDonald's were paid a visit near Antwerp and then it was full steam ahead for Paris.

The Stade De France was reached just as the National Anthems were being played and the boys just made their seats as the game kicked off! Unfortunately the Irish team never really got going, but the boys enjoyed the experience and the atmosphere with all the small french bands playing around this very impressive Stadium.

Ireland slumped to a defeat and unfortunately Andrew Trimble was not on the bench as a replacement to give the boys even more reason to cheer. After the game, a quick tour of the French capital at night was given, seeing all the usual spots like The Louvre, Arc De Triumph and the Eiffel tower, before the journey northwards to Arras where accommodation was booked for that night.

It was after midnight when the group finally got to Arras for a well earned break, and next morning it was up and away just after 8.00am to catch the Ferry to Dover from Calais, and then the long journey back to Liverpool for the return ferry crossing to Belfast, arriving home on the Monday morning at 8.00am.

So after 30 hours on a coach, four ferry crossings and two rugby matches, a very tired but happy group of Irish rugby supporters were glad to be home, enriched by an amazing journey and all the experiences of travel through three European countries.