Following on from last years highly successful trip to York, 2005 saw a return to the more traditional Vandals foreign tour. Whilst the British and Irish Lions could only muster a meagre 44 players in their squad, Vandals rustled up a magnificent 46 tourists including the Club President players from all of the senior teams and several colts, for this year's annual sojourn to the Mediterranean island of Menorca.
An overnight drinking session at the club for those brave enough, followed by a coach trip to Luton airport kicked off the tour. Having taken the decision that the touring party would travel in this years 'Casino' tour theme, Luton must have wondered what on earth was happening when a large number of Black-Tie wearing senior tourists arrived accompanied by half a dozen croupiers and an assortment of cocktail dress, heels and big-hair-wearing tour virgins, arrived at check-in!
On arrival in Menorca, the pre-tour last-minute news that our 4 star hotel had rejected us in favour of a more lucrative booking (Thanks, San Luis Hotel at Salgar!) was resolved to our satisfaction when we found ourselves in an otherwise deserted apartment complex, with a bar, pool and more sun loungers than you could shake a Germans towel at, all to ourselves. With that, the clouds parted, the sun came out and the beer began flowing. An early Tour Court session for offences (amongst others) of 'failing to have enough Virgins in your team' VBAY! and sending 'spam' e-mails - punishment, a can of Spam and a lap of the pool, was held, with the shoes of shame being awarded to Balders for the heinous offence of err….. Organising the Tour. Pool games, beer drinking and sun lounging were the order of the afternoon.
An early evening cab ride into Mahon was followed by a visit to the 'Gin Factory'…… 100 different drinks for free, each one tasting slightly worse than the last, and a relaxing evening visiting the various bars and restaurants around the harbour. After several hours of drinking and two days without sleep, fatigue began to take its toll and Cam Russell (who was already hallucinating through lack of sleep) found himself facing a row of 9 different gins after trying to set a Senior Tourist on fire. A big hand goes to Cam who accepted the challenge in the best traditions of the club and set about downing the whole lot in a World record breaking 45 seconds! Unfortunately this had the effect of sending him over the edge and a short while later an unsuspecting pigeon found itself having a conversation with the inside of Cams mouth! (Don't worry kids; no animals were permanently damaged during the tour)
Saturday dawned far too early for most peoples liking and after a relaxing morning and a second Court session - shoes of shame unanimously awarded to Cameron or 'Pigeon' as he is now known - we set off for Menorca RFC as the first ever foreign touring side to visit the island! A severe lack of sleep and sobriety had taken its toll and the 'Fit Boys' XV fielded by Vandals found themselves facing an unexpectedly well organised and disruptive Menorca 1st XV. It wasn't long before the home side had the upper hand and in the sweltering heat, Menorca ran out narrow victors. A deserved win for this fledgling club who are keen to see more foreign sides visit them. With pride at stake, Vandals Owls took to the park for the second match and with MRFC bolstered by some of Vandals younger and fitter players, an evenly fought game resulted in a narrow victory for Vandals. One game-all seemed a very fair way to end the Rugby playing element of the Tour and with this, the important business of out-drinking the Spanish and restoring British pride began. Vandals soon despatched Menorca's boat racing team and the Spanish could only gape in awe as Allenby demonstrated his superhuman ability at 'strawpedo' racing. Next stop; a nice bar to relax and watch the sunset. Plenty of beer, loud singing and a feeble attempt at this year's Tour Song, 'Viva Menorca' by the Virgins, whilst Ben, now in full flow, posed naked on top of a rock for the publics enjoyment and MRFC's club president brought new meaning to the phrase 'bush-fire'!
Next stop "The house of bull", for a sit down meal. With Leonard and Swiss amongst others arriving as white as sheets after a terrifying high speed drive, a few stiff drinks brought standards down to their normal level and a very loud evening of drinking, singing and flag waving ensued (not sure that 'waving' is quite the right word here). An exchange of Club memorabilia and speeches firmly cemented our friendship with MRFC. Mid-meal, Dan Chapman thoughtfully called the first (and only) game of Tour Roulette of the weekend. The prize for the lucky winner; a wine glass half filled with Tabasco and topped up with red wine, carefully stirred with Dan's big cigar! Who would have thought divine intervention could be so quick off the mark, when whose number should come up, other than Dan's! Funnily enough, a half pint of gut-wrenching spicy cocktail , seemed to put Dan off calling for the roulette wheel again, all weekend!
Another late night out brought us to Sunday for a relaxing day of lounging by the pool in the morning and an afternoon on the local beach. After the obligatory Tour Court including; Randall Leonard, co-tour organiser - being sent swimming with a caste on his arm after letting Balders take the blame for Leonard's miserable failure to get the Tour shirts on time and Calvin Woods for missing Tour Court the previous day along with a seemingly endless list of transgressions. Calvin's somewhat lenient punishments included being set on fire and beaten with a wet rope. The Shoes of shame were awarded to David Moore for naked pole dancing in a nightclub. A pleasant lunch was followed by the Virgin Olympics. Events included; Wheelbarrow racing & Pyramid building. Sumo wrestling (whilst covered head to toe in sand) which gave us a Heavyweight champion in the substantial shape of Timmon and Lightweight champion Charlie Kempton. The last 'event' of the afternoon was the 'Iron-Virgin' marathon; a gruelling run from the beach to the top of the cliffs (via 180 steps) and back. With Rory Grigg putting in a superb effort to win, amazingly, in second place was Ashley Howkins, who completed the run with his arm in a sling with a broken collarbone! The afternoon was rounded off with Ben and Dan's new game "Rugbounders" or full contact Rounders. A storming victory was won by a whole innings by Rob Minskip's team.
Our last evening in Menorca was a traditional Spanish meal organised by MRFC at a local restaurant. Assorted Tapas to start, Paella, jugs of beer and Sangria, washed down with Peach Schnapps, then into the bar next door for drinking, naked dancing (Singing in the rain) and general merriment. A 4am finish and a return to the hotel to destroy any remaining alcohol rounded off a fantastic weekend for all. Pr*ck of the Tour award went to Ashley Howkins, who as a Tour Virgin, with a broken collarbone, mucked in with all the tasks and was as attentive as only a devoted Tour Virgin can be. Even when offered a 'sick-note' he refused with the immortal words…..." I'll just struggle on a bit longer."
Weybridge Vandals would particularly like to thank Menorca RFC for their help in making the whole weekend memorable. They were superb hosts and made us feel very welcome. Vandals have no hesitation in recommending Menorca as an excellent end-of-season touring destination and MRFC as hosts.