In July 2017, OPs Sam Bunce (09-16), Jonty Atkinson (06-17) and Liam Hessay (03-14) were invited to join a three week tour with 32 players from the Under-20 Yorkshire Terriers Rugby Union Development Squad in Australia and New Zealand. Sam proudly recalls: “To travel and face the world’s top rugby playing nation, was an honour.”
The Terriers played a total of five games, one in Australia and four in New Zealand. The first match was played in Sydney, only three days after arriving in the country. Training sessions were held at various clubs and schools including Dilworth School, where Mr Houltham (06-17) (Pocklington School Former Teaching Staff, Teacher i/c Rugby) was a pupil. Dilworth School has also previously hosted several OPs on their GAP year, including Liam Hessay.
Liam said: “It was great to train at Dilworth after working there as an overseas tutor in my GAP Year. It was also a good opportunity to see some of the boys who I used to teach and visit staff members who I previously worked with.”
Training complete, the Terriers got off to an impressive start, winning the first two matches against the Southern Districts RUFC in Sydney and the North Island Maoris of New Zealand, in Auckland.
Sadly, the third match against Bay of Plenty RUFC saw the tourists defeated. On reflection, Sam said: “They were a very strong team and had Italian International, Kelly Haimona playing in the team.” The tour finished in Wellington, where matched against equal, if not stronger opposition, the Terriers were once again defeated.
Whilst the Terriers finished the tour winning two out of five matches, the players had gained far more than a new set of match statistics. The boys would certainly recommend going on the tour to anyone who is offered the opportunity in the future.
Liam commented: “The tour was a great experience and something that I was very grateful to have the opportunity to do. The tour promotes self-improvement on and off the pitch. You are surrounded by coaches, support staff and of course your fellow teammates and friends. It is a great chance to visit new places, experience different cultures, whilst also making friends that you will keep for life.”
Sam reflected: “One of my lasting memories from the tour was playing in the Jerry Collins Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. The Terriers played the best rugby of the tour here: it was a special occasion, despite the loss. The tour has been an unbelievable experience which has helped my development as a rugby player for this coming season and many ahead.”
Jonty said: “The tour was an awesome experience. Sydney was fantastic but to stand in front of the New Zealand Maoris doing the haka was a special memory. The Yorkshire Terriers were up for the challenge and showed great team spirit.”
He continued: “To be part of a rugby team on tour with such quality players and intense training has certainly benefited my overall game and I am looking forward to the new season at Reading University and Pocklington RUFC.
As the University term beckons, Jonty will begin University and Liam and Sam will be returning to Newcastle and Keele Universities, respectively. The development of their rugby game over the summer will hopefully pay dividends as they all return to play rugby for their Universities and Clubs.