The senior side travelled to London over the weekend of the 16th-18th March to play in an Invitational Triangular Tournament organised and hosted by Reg Clark of Rhino Rugby and his Kew Occassionals Rugby Club.
The majority of the tourists met at their new HQ for 2012 - The White Hart, Cheddar. 15 of the tourists enjoyed breakfast and liquid refreshments from 9am, apart from young Alex Conroy, who arrived late at 9.30am, dressed randomnly as 'Woody' from Toy Story ! Apparently someone had misinformed 'The Angry Cat' of the theme for the tour (nice work Stoby !!). A late addition to the trip appeared at the last minute, when a blow up version of Ross Farrell came along to keep Stu 'Where's Ross' Knight company on his first ever trip outside of Cheddar.
The Cheddy bus departed at 10.30, heading down the M4 to Richmond - the venue for the weekend ahead. Unfortunately due to several unscheduled toilet stops, Liam 'Springbok' Cullen was unable to meet up with daddy at a corporate lunch in Ealing Rugby Club, and instead he was forced into staying with the touring party, forced into drinking more lager and forced into entering several bars in Soho.
Later that afternoon the travelling party went to the Rhino Rugby HQ in Chiswick to have a champagne reception with Reg Clark and the captain of their other opponents (London Japanese RFC). The Irish travellers of Patrick Cullen and Gary 'Burger' Higgins also joined the team after their posh lunch with Sean Fitzpatrick. At the reception Reg Clark presented the Cheddar Team with a replica rhino head which had hung in his HQ for over 25 years, as a momento of the weekend.
Then a quick change back at the hotel before heading off to the Stoop to watch the English Exiles take on the Irish Exiles. Everyone enjoyed the game - apart from Alex Moulton and his best friend Simon, who had gone to bed together in the hotel and missed the bus to the ground. After the game the boys continued drinking in and around Richmond, before an early night in prearation for the triangual tournament on Saturday morning.
Tournament KO was middayat at Richmond RFC, where London Japanese were Cheddars first opponents. The team was out early to warmup, apart from Old Man Cullen and Matt 'In or Out' Vaughan, who had travelled down Saturday morning via train for the games. Unfortunately, Higgins had eaten tooooooo many burgers at the lunch Friday and was unable to play as he could not fit into any of the shorts in the kit bag. Craig Furneaux was making his debut at scrum half, whilst James 'Beaker' Stewart was forced to play by his team mates.
In a tight game, great running from Andy 'Shut Up' Underwood and Matt Vaughan, gave Cheddar a good platform to score 3 tries,compared to the 2 tries that the committed Japanese could manage, leaving Cheddar winners at 15-10. In the second match the Kew Occassionals were Cheddar's opponents. Brendon 'Welcome to the Chapple' Chapple captained Cheddar in the second game, after his massive strop in the first game, disagreeing with his captains decision to not kick an easy penalty and to run the ball instead - in true touring spirit. Unfortunately for Cheddar, the Occassionals could actually play rugby and in a very short duration were well up, having scored several tries. Most Cheddar players were wilting by this stage but back rower Nick 'Hand Grenade' Vincent played a blinder, until he had to leave the pitch to go the toilet.
After the game refreshments were put on in the clubhouse and the majority of the players watched the 6 Nations Games,whilst a few went to Twickenham itself. After the post match celebrations, representatives of the 3 clubs exchanged shirts and ties - with the London Japanese Rugby Club accepting Cheddars invitation to tour in Cheddar next year. James '3's and 4's' Stewart formally invited the Japanese with a letter he penned during the England game, a picture of his letter can be seen below - great use of all the coloured pens available to him at the kiddies corner of Richmond RFC - nice work Beaker !
Later that evening the tourists split with most visiting Richmond and a few going further afield into Kingston. The touring party then left for home early Sunday morning - a very very long journey ! Home to the White Hart by mid afternoon.
All in all a great tour - a big thanks to Craig 'It is what it is' Furneaux for organising the great trip.
Early plans are in place for next years tour to Marbella.