South Africa Tour Write-Up
Schuylkill River Rugby travelled to South Africa for a tour from March 18 – 25. We got a little sidetracked but now that we’ve collected all of our photos and had a bye week we’re finally doing the write up. If you go to our Facebook page you can find an album with photos from the trip.
Day 1: After a long flight, and an even longer search for Brian Keown’s wallet, we headed to our hotel to check in before heading to the rhino park. At the rhino park we had the opportunity to play and take photos with tiger cubs and a cheetah while also seeing some full grown big cats, the rhinos, and the pygmy hippos. From there we headed to the Varsity Cup match between the University of Pretoria and University of Johannesburg. UJ opened up a 27-7 lead but the match ended up being a draw when UP scored a last minute try and nailed the conversion. Interestingly, they have a rule that allows for 9 point tries if you run the ball out of your own end which helped UP earn the tie. The hotel was part of a large circus themed casino complex and the guys took advantage after the match. Brenden Reif and Hunter Valentine were particularly lucky, winning about 10K Rand between the two of them.
Day 2. The following morning we traveled to Piet Retief which is Izak Du Plooy’s hometown. After we got settled in we headed to the rugby club for our match. Tries were scored by Ian Glatts and Eric Sucheki. Following the match we had a spit braai dinner at their clubhouse. The locals told us that we were the first foreign team to ever show up in their town and some of them told us this match was the biggest event in their town’s history. That might sound like an exaggeration but based on the fact that this was a Tuesday night match played at 7PM and the social afterwards didn’t end until 10:30AM I think it’s legit. At one point we bought the bar completely out of booze and the local police chief organized a brandy resupply for us. Throughout the night we traded our jerseys and polos for Piet Retief gear and Joe Midwig successfully traded his polo for a man’s wedding ring while the wife apparently looked on approvingly.
Day 3. Following James Teti’s volunteer construction shift we headed to a rugby clinic with Albert Schlebush and Lindelani Makhanya. Albert is the current coach of Piet Retief high school as well as the U16 Pumas (the Pumas are a Currie Cup team which is South Africa’s highest domestic competition) while Lindelani is a University player who has also played for the Pumas during Craven week which is a big University competition. The clinic went pretty well given our fatigue level and the guys were able to learn some new techniques and drills to bring back home. In the evening we had team dinner at Deja-vu Lounge for potjiekos and taught the locals Dreams and Nightmares by Meek Mill while explaining the global importance of the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Superbowl. Bus driver Joe then showed us how give the bus a sunroof and we headed back to our lodging.
Day 4. Following our second night in Piet Retief we headed to Kruger park which is one of the largest games reserves in all of Africa (it is almost the size of Belgium). It is so impressive that people travel from around the world to South Africa just to visit Kruger. By my count we saw the following animals: hyenas, monkey, lions, tortoise, impala, Warthogs, zebra, giraffes, gnu, kudu, springbok, elephant, hippo, crocodile, waterbuck. The lions were particularly awe-inspiring. As we drove down the road 3 younger male lions decided to lie down in the road (apparently because the weather was cold and the road is warmer) and block traffic. One SUV was somewhat impatient and tried to get around them resulting in one of the lions appearing ready to attack the car. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see that as the lions decided to head back into the woods. After Kruger we had dinner at the Deck Restaurant followed by a team wide pool party where some of the participants were a bit more willing than the others.
Day 5. We started off the day by driving for coffee at Izak’s favorite place, Alzu, which is a rest stop/zoo combo that owns Rhinos. We didn’t get to see them but we did see an Eland. We then had breakfast at another Izak favorite, Mugg and Bean before making it to Pretoria where we took a tour of Loftus stadium and did some jersey shopping at the club store. Lunch was in the stadium at a sports bar called TrademarX. Afterwards we traveled to our lodge, the Pride of Africa Private Nature Reserve and had dinner at Kingfisher Restaurant. The guys finished the night by hanging out at the campfire and playing pool/darts in the rec room.
Day 6. We had a pre-match breakfast together at Kingfisher restaurant before traveling to Boksburg for our match where tries were scored by Tyler Kelly, Ricky Schneider, and Eric Sucheki. We had another jersey exchange and traded their club a signed jersey of ours in exchange for a framed jersey of theirs that they had made up for us. After heading back to the preserve we had a court session and a biltong party by the fire.
Day 7. We woke up and headed to the casino near the airport to kill time before flight home. During lunch Izak’s fiancé joined us and the two of them went with Izak’s family to look at wedding venues. We wish them the best of luck with their upcoming marriage. Gambling took place at Emperor’s Palace and once again the guys were successful. After a long flight home it was time to get back to normal.
Our goal is to go on tour every 2 years so we’ll be announcing the plan for our 2020 tour in the near future. Thanks for reading!