On Thursday 1st May Vandals set off to the South-of-France Rugby stronghold of Biarritz. Starting early with tea, coffee, brandy & bacon rolls followed by a short hop to Stanstead, the important business of beer and breakfast continued at around 9:30am. True to form, Ryanair's inaugural flight to Pau was two hours late taking off so several more rounds of beer and card games whiled away the time .
On arrival in Pau, it was into tour shirts and a coach ride to Biarritz for drinking and sunshine. Voluntarily continuing his role of tour virgin from last year Brian Cameron started the evening by dressing as a woman and going swimming fully clothed!
Friday morning saw compulsory 'Tour-de France' outfits with seasoned tourists fitting in nicely and non-voluntary tour virgins Mike Latimer and Mike Steele sporting pink flowered cycling helmets and Barbie accessories..... With Brian Cameron as the voluntary third virgin, the touring party were split into red, blue and black teams for afternoon beach games and the three virgins were auctioned (all proceeds to the beer kitty). The shoes of shame were awarded to ....yes you've guessed it.... Brian Cameron for his antics the previous day. Morning activities included beach boule and safety testing of the tour virgins cycling helmets. This involved the virgins standing on the beach whilst boule were dropped on them from a cliffside cafe! Luckily, the helmet' 'kite marks' were genuine and everyone escaped unscathed! During lunch, the virgins provided more entertainment by diving for mussels in the harbour. After lunch, there was compulsory participation in beach games including full contact Beach-Rugby, Chariot racing and Pyramid building. With only a couple of minor dislocations, prize winners included Brian Cameron (King of the Mountains), top points scorer, Dr Danny and wearer of the coveted 'yellow jersey', Tim Perry.
Friday evening commenced with a trip to Biarritz Olympic vs Bourgoin at Stade Aguilera in the French Division 1 play-offs, then into Biarritz for a quiet cultural evening....Quote of the night.......Mike Latimer........"ha ha ha, look everyone, I've just thrown a rugby ball in the face of Bourgoins 6'6", 19 stone prop".....after a very late finish, Tour Court was held on Saturday afternoon on the beach with His Honor Judge Perry meting out punishments for serious touring 'offences' ranging from 'being Welsh and going to bed early' to 'Flower arranging on Tour'. The shoes of shame were awarded for the most serious offence committed on Friday.....Huw Thomas for going to club duvet and missing out on all the overnight fun!
A late afternoon game against local side Tripaundiak resulted in a win for for the home side before settling down to the serious business of after match drinking, singing and games. With copious amounts of alcohol laid on by Tripaundiak, Vandals were on top form, out-singing and then despatching the home side boat-racing team before moving on to accept a challenge from the home 'champion' at Pastis drinking. Who could forget the cheers of 'Chips, Chips, Chips' as tour leader and new - World Champion, "51" drinker Simon Chipperfield wiped the floor with local hero, 'Thierry', who retired injured to the car park for a nice sleep! The evenings entertainment included a naked virgin marathon race, with Brian Cameron showing his experience by locking the other (naked) competitors outside, mid-race, before downing a 'cocktail', eating a selection of local delicacies and going on to win! Copious amounts of hot local food, provided by our very generous hosts were consumed with gusto before Vandals returned to Biarritz for more beer and disco-ing until dawn.
On Sunday morning the shoes of shame were again awarded, this time in line with a weekend-long popular vote. For a long series of transgressions including being from 'Up North' and his claims to have invented......Rugby Touring, Pastis and Beach Rugby to mention but a few of his achievements, the shoes went to Dave Mellows. His offences were compounded further by his refusal to wear the shoes.......to cries of 'shaaaaame'. P***k of the tour was awarded to Brian Cameron for the second year in a row for his boundless energy and seemingly endless list of ways to behave stupidly!
The touring party returned to the UK later in the day, with discussion and speculation over next years tour, suggestions at the moment include Prague and Helsinki with a proposed Owls tour to Vietnam!