This year, the minis tour entitled: "Admiral Nelson & all things seaworthy", enticed 150 tourists for an early Saturday morning breakfast at the club before heading to to North London for a coaching clinic run by Saracens.
75 players from across the minis (U8's to U12's) graced the 4G turf of Allianz Park for a round robin of coaching stands run by Saracens community coaches, assisted by Saracens Academy player - Joel Kpoku. Our players really enjoyed the experience, the sun was shining and the parents and coaches kept the light refreshment stands busy (some even opened early for the occasion) whilst bringing a bit of Nelson country to North London.
Everyone was then treated to the spectacle of the Heineken Cup quarter final clash between Saracens and Glasgow Warriors. Our U11's were invited onto the pitch at half time to play a match against Fullerians (from Watford) - An incredible experience to play on the main pitch in front of a packed stadium crowd. The atmosphere at Saracens really made the occasion for everyone. Peter Graves upped the ante by getting the tour to sing 'The Grand Old Duke of York' with actions - I think the heat under his costume was getting to him... We were all very proud to watch Libby Lockwood (former WRFC Wasps player and part-time coach to the U11s) run out onto the pitch for her first start for the Saracens Women team. We left behind a small determined band of supporters to cheer on her efforts.
The majority of tour then retreated to the Lee Valley YHA for further refreshments and an evening of "entertainment" before retiring to our hammocks thoroughly satisfied and exhausted. Sunday morning saw the tour split into two components: The majority headed to Saffron Walden RFC with a small party splintering off to St Neots RFC. Both clubs were excellent hosts and made all the age groups feel very welcome - by all accounts the rugby was very good too. We have definitely built bridges with both of those clubs and we look forward to arranging future fixtures with them both.
I can report, despite one of the coaches breaking down in the middle of the A1/M25 interchange, all players, coaches, several admiral Nelsons, sailor boys, a squid, three lobsters, several popeyes, a couple of divers and a clump of seaweed, a school of sharks, a goldfish, a clownfish, two seagulls, fishermen and a fishmonger, "spongebob", a viking, a crew of pirates, a Baywatch lifeguard and a gossip of mermaids, a barrel of rum, a sea monster and a pair of parrots were all returned safely to club in time for tea.
Thank you for everyone's patience and support bringing the tour together and for buying into the spirit of tour - that is ultimately what made it a success...