Below is a report from the Woden’s U16s recent tour here to Northland, written by Darrell McDonald, their Tour Coordinator. By all accounts their trip was a positive and successful one, with a massive thank you from Rugby League Northland to all those volunteers who helped before, during and after their visit.
Click here to see a selection of photographs from the tour.
Rams Under 16 Tour to New Zealand
On Friday October 4 2013, 29 Player and 8 Chaperones left the Woden Tradies for a Playing Tour of New Zealand’s North Island.
We travelled by bus to Sydney before boarding our flight to Auckland.
On arrival in Auckland we packed ourselves into 3 mini-vans and a hire car for a two hour trek to our Camp for the week at Ruakaka Holiday Park.
We were greeted by our hosts for the week Michael and Anne-Marie Abel and the Goings who had prepared a fantastic meal for us.
Most of the boys slept in the Hall on mattresses (which at night time would be transferred to a wrestling ring for ‘Fight Night’).
The rest slept in Cabins which slept two to four persons.
On Sunday we had a big breakfast before a light training run and game of Touch.
The afternoon was spent on the beach and lagoon swimming and kayaking.
We spent the evening at the Local Surf club were we had a great meal and watched the NRL Grand Final on the big screen.
Monday was an early morning training session where both sides fine-tuned their plays in preparation for following day’s games.
We had lunch at the golf club before a good laugh whilst enjoying a round of Golf at the Waipu Golf Club.
That evening we had our first taste of Maori Culture at the Te Hana Te Ao Marama Cultural Centre which included a fantastic Hangi.
Following dinner we were transported back in time 300 years to a Maori Village including a scary welcome from the Local warriors which left our chief, Josh Divito shaking in his boots. The boys learnt the Haka and Kim, Amanda & Anne-Marie gave the boys an exhibition in Poi Balls.
By Tuesday our group had grown to 43 with the addition of a further 5 boys and a chaperone and we headed off for our first game day where the Blue Team took on Marist Brothers 18’s and the Gold Team played the Otaika Sea Eagles.
The boys were honoured to have the Haka performed before both games and it helped inspire the Blue team to a huge 54 to 8 Victory over Marist Brothers. Fraser Smith was awarded Players Player and the crowd adored the heroics of Pat Hill.
The Gold team went up before a bigger and stronger side than expected but were brave in the 34-18 defeat. Connor McVey was voted Players Player and we all enjoyed the after match function which included a Hangi for lunch.
We then headed to the aquatic centre where there were slides and a wave pool for the boys to unwind.
45 Pizzas were ordered for Dinner before a huge fight night was held in the Hall.
Wednesday saw a few of the chaperones head off on an early morning fishing charter whilst the boys enjoyed a sleep in.
That afternoon we enjoyed a great game of paintball at Strategy Tag Paintball Games before a huge meal at a local restaurant ‘Gengy’s’ before heading off to the ITM Rugby Match in which the boys saw their hero, Robbie Abel crash over for a try.
Thursday morning saw us pack up for an overnight visit to Paihia which would include our second game day.
We travelled West to Dargaville before heading North along the Coast for some great views whilst having a light lunch by the water.
After lunch we arrived at Otaua where were officially welcomed into the area with a Powhiri.
Fraser Smith was selected as our Tour Pastor for the ceremony and we were honoured to perform the Rams song at such an event.
After an early afternoon tea we headed off to the local sports ground /Sheep Paddock for the Gold team to play the Northern Swords 15’s and the Blue Team the Otaua Valleys 18’s.
The Gold team went down 34 to 32 but were denied victory after a dubious referees call right on Full time. Baylee Matheson was voted Players Player. The Blue team took on what was the biggest and toughest group of ‘men’ they had ever seen. They held on for a gallant 26-18 victory in a game which seemed to last for ever. Pat Hill was voted best by his peers.
A highlight of the day was the singing of the National Anthems and playing in such a unique location.
The boys enjoyed another after match Hangi before heading off to the Natural Healing Mud Baths of Ngawha.
We then headed off to Paihia were we slept at a Backpackers hostel.
Early Friday morning 16 of the group hit the Bay of Islands where we were treated to a great day of fishing. The boys caught a heap of Snapper and Sam Eager even hooked up a sea gull. Whilst the boys fished, Mudge dove below and gathered a heap of Scallops, Oysters, Mussels and Crayfish which would later be enjoyed for Lunch.
The rest of the group enjoyed another sleep in before a big breakfast at Kalani’s Grandparents home. We then hit the streets of Paihia for some shopping and then many of the boys got taken for a ride on the sea biscuit.
We then jumped on the Buses for the return trip to Ruakaka.
The last night of the Tour was spent at the function room of the Local tavern where we held a Presentation Night and a thank you dinner for our host families the Abels and Goings. Dan Prior took out the prestigious Ram of the Tour award and Andrew Beath-Williams the coveted wrestling award.
Saturday we packed up and headed to Auckland for a bit more shopping and sightseeing before flying out to Sydney for our final bus ride back to Canberra.
We arrived back at the Tradies at Woden incident free and all had enjoyed an experience of a lifetime.
On behalf of all tourists I would like to thank all of the following people who made the tour such a success.
- All of our sponsors for their financial help.
- Onesport for making us look good and recognised wherever we went .
- Our parents for their time and financial support.
- Dave McLean and Anthony Robertson and the rest of the Rams Committee for all their help in getting us over the ditch.
- The Rams community for selling and buying our Raffle tickets and for attending our Footy Show night.
- Alex Smits from the NZRL for organizing all the games and to all the clubs and communities we played against thank you for generous hospitality.
- To all the places we visited in Northlands we thank you for making us all feel so welcome.
- Calvin Huddleston for the gifts he supplied for all of our hosts.
- Tony Abel for all the groundwork he did in preparation for our tour.
- To our Host Families the Abel’s and Goings you went beyond the expected and without you we would have been lost for a week.
- To the Chaperones who took the week of work to look after the boys.
And finally to the boys themselves who worked hard all season to raise the money for their tour and for the Behaviour whilst away. You all did your Club, region and Country proud.