By Chris Clayton
A Friday evening Easyjet flight from Manchester and the Under 15s tour started in earnest on arrival at our Basel hostel at 11pm. Local bars were about to shut but, on seeing about 50 thirsty Mancunians approach, happily stayed open for a bumper couple of hours each side of midnight.
Saturday – nothing like a walking tour of Basel old town to blow away the cobwebs. High on the hill above the Rhine, our multi-talented tour guide come rugby referee patiently led the weary travellers past historic buildings and sights to the lovely market square where the food market was a welcome sight, though the inevitable McCafe proved more popular with the kids.
The rugby match took place in sunny but cold conditions at the delightful Basel Rugby Club. Our friendly and hospitable hosts may never have experienced such fast flowing rugby and Manchester duly ran in many tries (and a record 3 conversions from tour veteran Tom Laidlaw). A spirited Basel replied with 2 tries and plenty of sporting applause for the tourists at the end.
An evening meal courtesy of our hosts – at a restaurant reached by old wooden ferry over the Rhine – rounded off a busy and successful day.
Sunday – A swift march to the station, then by train, bus and gondola to the mountain-top tree climbing and zip-wire activity centre. The hills were alive with the sound of happy tourists, but possibly less so when an avalanche of hyped up scooting Mancunians (refreshed by a lunchtime BBQ) cascaded down the 4.5 km track to base camp in about 5 minutes flat, the locals (out for their quiet Sunday afternoon stroll) being scattered far and wide, diving for cover.
Back to Basel to collect our luggage, then a farewell meal and vote of thanks to our hosts with special thanks to John, Dave, Olly, Andy and everyone at Basel Rugby Club for making us feel so welcome and to Neil J for having the idea in the first place and planning the trip so well.
Tour awards included: Yellow dorm for overnight noise & disturbance; Paul A for silliest hat; Harry C for first, and Chris C for last down the mountain; Foxy for “last one in”, having gatecrashed a local party only to lose his hoody in a drinking bet with a local Baselle; Chunky for loudest snorer (by some distance), dead to the world, head-down on the tiled landing floor, thus disproving the long held belief that men only snore when lying on their backs; and finally, all female tourists, for putting up with the above.
After so many planes, trains, trams, buses, gondolas and scooters it was nothing short of a miracle that the tour party was fully accounted for back in the UK where the final of the Lancashire Cup now awaits.