We have a track record of improving and developing our rugby players as they benefit from the outstanding coaching from excellent rugby masters. The current Head of Rugby Mr Lewis is one of a few Level 4 qualified coaches in the country. The rugby club provides boys with the opportunity to train both during games lessons and after school. Eight rugby pitches, temporary flood-lighting, indoor facilities and excellent equipment enable players and staff to enjoy rugby no matter what the weather, or condition, of the pitches.
The rugby club has started a formal relationship with Loughborough University, where ; our Year 10 rugby players have the experience of being coached by the University’s rugby coaches as well as their strength and conditioning staff. This is a relationship we are hoping to continue to grow to allow other year groups to develop their skills and high performance capability. Former Scotland and 7’s international and current 1XV captain Alex Glashan is an example of the quality of coaching a rugby player will encounter at Loughborough University.
LGS rugby players also have the opportunity to develop their experience further afield: Year 7s experience a tour with Mr Parton to Blackpool; Year 9s have been to Belfast, Edinburgh and more recently South Wales – last year they experienced watching Wales lift the Grand Slam trophy, an experience they, and Mr Lewis, will never forget. To cap this all off, there is a long haul tour for the boys at the end of their school rugby careers. More recently this has taken the boys to Dubai (see report below ) and in July 2021 South Africa, where the boys will hopefully get to watch the British and Irish Lions play.
The Year 12 rugby tour of Dubai and Abu Dhabi offered the opportunity to play competitive rugby in an unusual and unforgiving climate and to experience the culture of the middle east. On the last flight out of a rather damp and miserable Birmingham on October 10th, we arrived in Dubai, early on the Thursday morning, to sunshine and the temperature in the high 30’s!
With no opportunity to succumb to jet lag, we made our way from the airport to the Dubai English Speaking College and trained at their facility, which has been used by a number of international sides, including Fiji and New Zealand. The boys displayed a high level of effort and intensity – especially considering that many had struggled to sleep on the flight.
A guided sightseeing trip old Dubai and further training at the famous Dubai Sevens Stadium led us to our first match of the tour on Saturday afternoon against Dubai Warriors. The opposition included a number of talented South African and Antipodean players and we knew this was going to be a tough encounter. A fast-paced match in the afternoon heat took its toll on a number of players but solidarity and teamwork coupled with the desire to get the tour off to a winning start saw us record a 29-14 win. The players certainly earned the recovery session at the Wild Wadi Water Park in the afternoon!
The three days of recovery before our second match on tour gave us the opportunity to experience the sights of Dubai. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding allowed us to learn a little more about local culture, customs and traditions. We were treated to a traditional Emirati lunch and some of the boys had the opportunity to try on Kanduras and Ghutras, traditional clothing for the region. Many of the boys clearly liked ‘the look’ and took the opportunity to purchase their own during the trip to a local soukh which followed.
As we began to focus on our next match we finished off our stay in Dubai by ‘going large’ with a visit to the Dubai Mall, the largest in the world, and a trip to the top of the Burj Khalif, the tallest building in the world. We spent our last evening enjoying the sunset on a desert dune safari which was followed by a BBQ and being entertained with a traditional Tanoura folk dance and belly dancing. A couple of players got the opportunity to take the stage and have a go – at this point we realised why they are rugby players and not dancers!
We bade farewell to Dubai and headed to Abu Dhabi for our final match. In the build up to the fixture, Yas Island, gave us the opportunity to experience Ferrari World and the F1 Grand Prix circuit – both amazing experiences. Abu Dhabi Harlequins were our next opposition and this was going to prove the biggest test for our squad. With more favourable conditions (a ‘cool’ 29oC) due to an evening kick off under lights, we set about the game with the same focus and determination shown throughout the tour. Tour captain, Lewis Wales, rallied his troops and with heroic defensive play at times, the game was in the balance going into the last fifteen minutes. An evenly contested game was decided by the ingredient needed for any successful rugby team: desire to win. The final time the boys would ever play as a Year 12 side was the motivation required to see them to victory by 17-10. So we had reached the final night and we celebrated with a wonderful end of tour meal overlooking Abu Dhabi harbour.
The final words must be about the players. Their attitude and behaviour was excellent throughout and they were wonderful ambassadors for the school. They took control of the tour blog, which can be viewed on Twitter @LboroGSRugby and contains day by day details of the tour. It is fitting to finish with an excerpt from the players’ day 3 blog, ‘Rugby tours are built on the results on the pitch and the experiences off of it’.