Illawarriors Under 13 Rugby Tour - 2016


Illawarriors 2016 arriving Christchurch International Airport

A full Touring Party of 30 are taking part in the 2016 Illawarriors Under 13 Rugby Squad for the South Island Tour including 3 matches.

The players were Harrison Agnew, Jarvis Austin, Cooper Bond, Luka Butcher, Tom Cusack, Sam Davis, Jayden Dunn, Hugo Fay, Oscar Frean, Diego Hehea, Jake Hickey, Sam Milross-Rose, Liam Holland, Harrison Kiteley, Rory Lawrence, Jaden Legasi, Brandon Morkos, Tommy Mott, Jake Neich, Tom Prosser, Oukei Taufahema, Kalum Whyte & Tully Yates.

Team Management is headed by Tracy Austin (Manager), Matt Yates, Chick Butcher, Andrew Holland & Brett Kiteley (Co-Coaches) along with Charmaine Holland & Darren Austen.

The Under 13 squad played Belfast (Christchurch) win 17-10, Pirates (Dunedin) win 47-29 and Wakatipu High School (Queenstown) loss 24-29

The Tour lasted 9 days starting at Christchurch and finishing at Queenstown.

For the record the weather was absolutely superb with sunshine and an average temperature around 18 degrees. The only morning of rain was as the team traveled from Christchurch to Dunedin but otherwise "bloody good mate!" 

Illawarriors Under 13 Tour - Day 1

Training on arrival day

Great start the Illawarriors landed on time and were smartly thru customs and met by Don (DJ) Warner and introduced to "Greta" the Go Bus before transferring to the Christchurch Motel in Riccarton for the first of three nights stay in the heart of Richie McCaw country.

A light training run was organised at the nearby school and the lads settled into the routine pretty smartly. Head Coach Matt Yates, camera in hand, was yelling the orders ably supported by his Coaching staff.

Dinner tonight we headed for the Hornsby Workingmans Club where the "roast of the day" and desert was an ideal start to the trip.

Officially lights out around 10pm but or two were certainly much later than that but "boys will be boys" and it is only the first night away and it's two hours earlier back in Aussie! 

Illawarriors Under 13 Tour - Day 2

Preparations vs Belfast (17-7 victory)

Match Day!

Lovely buffet breakfast followed by a wander around Central Christchurch with a viewing of the badly damaged Cathedral and it's "cardboard" replacement. Out to Brighton Pier for a walk on the coastline before a couple of team talks, lunch and some "downtime" before the first match.

The Belfast RFC are celebrating their 100th Anniversary this year and the Illawarriors were certainly not going to let them start on a winning note! 3 tries to Brandon Markos and a conversion to Rory Lawrence had Illawarra 17-10 up and halftime and with a tight 2nd Half there was no addition to the scoreline. First up win pleased everyone and with the early arrival on the extra supporters, who only flew in today, this was the ideal start.

Belfast were excellent hosts providing a BBQ and drinks for the lads and a great opportunity for the boys and parents to mix in with the local hospitality.

From there we headed back to base for a quick change and out to the Gardens Buffet Restaurant for an "all you eat" entree, main and desert – much appreciated in these early days on tour but already one or two looking a little tired.

Illawarriors Under 13 Tour - Day 3

Antarctic Centre - Christchurch

Activities around Christchurch

Buffet breakfast – we need to get out of this habit, far too much food.

This morning we went to the International Antarctic Centre out at Christchurch Airport, takes around 2 hours to walk around the exhibition including a 3D movie (wear rain gear), take a look at the Penguins and experience the artic conditions of a full snow blizzard and finish with a ride in the Hagglund Carts they use in the Antarctic – all good fun!

Again the weather in Christchurch was superb and after a Subway lunch we headed back out toward the coast and a couple of hours entertainment on the various "flying foxes" and obstacles at Adrenalin Forest. Some didn't last too long, it's pretty demanding on some of the crosses and the height put a few of. All good fun once again then back to base for yet another change and out to dinner at the Ko Tane Maori Cultural Experience and Hangi (evening meal).

This time Chief Andrew Holland was confirmed as our leader an he accepted the Maori Warriors Challenge and traditional fern leaf. Quite an experience with the boys and supporters joining in for the Haka and some traditional Maori activities. The Hangi is cooked in the ground and was very popular by all especially the meats and vegetables. Our "Warriors" were pretty patient but the eyes beginning to fade we headed back to base for our final night before heading South for the next leg of our journey.

Illawarriors Under 13 Tour - Day 4

Mexican dinner in Dunedin

Travel Day – and we hate travel day!

After a generous sleep in we were on the road South to Dunedin, over 4 hours but we stopped at Ashburton for "brunch" which delighted us all as the small cafe we found went into panic stations with the arrival of 23 young noisy lads! However the cafe proved popular and we left having made several new friends amongst the safe owners and the locals.

Wonderful scenery along the Canterbury Plains but the lads (and management) were much more interested in watching the comedy of Adam Sandler and a "save the world" Pixels movie we played. On arrival at Dunedin we headed for the Cadbury Chocolate Tour for an hour watching the making and behind the scenes of making chocolate. However the coaching staff had training on their mind and after booking into our next 2 nights accommodation it was across the road to sun some food and chocolate off and stretch those legs before tomorrows game.

Dinner tonight was Mexican at a local restaurant sourced by our Executive Events Manager "Brett Kiteley" and he turned on a "hum-dinger!" Mexican outlaw hats, moustachios and treats of tequila and a great selection of foods had us all entertained for a couple of hours. From there it was back to base and a relatively early 9.30pm "lights-out" for the night.


Illawarriors Under 13 Tour - Day 5

Aftermatch following 47-29 win over Pirates (Dunedin)

Continental Breakfast this morning which the boys didn't really appreciate, but that's touring life on occasions. First stop was Rebel Sports this morning as the headgear from Sundays match was washed and some "shrunk" a little out of shape. Poor old Rebel staff were stunned with the basketballs, gym gear and golf clubs swung around a bit – no damage. Some new headgear, sweaters and boots purchased.

Ex-Highlander Super 15 player Jason McDonald was our host on the conducted tour of the Forsyth Barr Stadium giving us his thoughts on all aspects of Rugby from playing to the "behind the scenes" preparations for todays players – a very good insight into the life of a professional Rugby player.

At midday we were back at base to catch up on washing and preparations for this afernoons match against Dunedin Pirates. Down time was most popular and even "Greta the Go Bus" good a spruce up (thanks guys). A healthy lunch and then the traditional "shots" for the players and official welcome to the new players in this years squad.

3pm we all headed across the road to the Pirates ground for match warm-ups. Not the greatest of fields with a few bare patches and some uneven ground but that's what to expect away from "home" Kick-off at 4pm and the Illwarriors were on fire in the first 20 mins running out to a 26-0 lead thanks to tries from Brad Morkos (2), Diego Hehei and Jaden Legaspi and 3 conversions from Rory Lawrence but the Pirates came back strongly to 26-22 at halftime. The 2nd Half continued with the attacking flair of both teams and with Brad Morkos running in another 2 tries along with Oscar Frean, conversions to Rory Lawrence and Jack Neich (2) the Illawarriors completed a 47-29 victory.

Pirates were great hosts and again great to see both teams mixing in with each other and some great presentations and speeches made by both sides.

Dinner in house tonight with Hells Pizza's the order of the day. The lads were allowed a little more freedom tonight but nobody stepped out of line and I think there were some tired lads who appreciated the opportunity to gain some valuable bedtime.

Illawarriors Under 13 Tour - Day 6

"The Cow" Restaurant in Queenstown

Travel Day! We had travel day.

Greta the Go Bus all loaded by 8.30am but Greta was a "no go" this morning, problems with the air pressure meant we needed a mechanic to come and get her on her feet again. Under Tracys command the lads were loaded onto public transport – much to the amazement of the local bus driver and they were into the Octagon region for a boomer breakfast and coffee!

Greta and I were in the city to collect them and away to Cromwell for an appointment on the Highlands Raceway Go Kart track. Fantastic scenery all the way through the Otago Highlands alongside the Clutha River and we were at Cromwell right on time. Everyone raced, some crashed and some had a lot of fun!  Not surprizingly Andrew Holland came out the winner but there were plenty of protests from the boys as you'd expect.

Only an hour thru to Queenstown but a stop at the famous AJ Hackett Bungy Jump off the Kawarau Bridge was just too tempting for some – well done lads, I hid in the Bus doing a bit of cleaning!

After the accommodation standards at Christchurch and Dunedin we were smartly brought back down to earth with a true lodge style rating greeting us at Queenstown. Great views but very cramped rooms, some without tv and some with pretty small "on suites". However the lads took it in their stride and we headed into central Queenstown for a great meal at a hidden-away classic little restaurant that was full of history and good humour.

A long travel day but most enjoyable. 

Illawarriors Under 13 Tour - Day 7


The weather in Queenstown, just like on the rest of the tour, was again absolutely superb! 

This morning it was a cracker Buffet breakfast, which had smiles on the boys faces again andthen down into the central wharf area of Queenstown and a jaunt around Lake Wakatipu and the fringes of the Kawarau River with 2 Jetboats needed for our 40 odd passengers.

From here it was freetime with the parents for the afternoon and all the boys spent some valuable family time away from the hustle and bustle of Touring life. Quiet times all round and great relaxation time enjoyed.

Back as a team by 4pm and down to Memorial Park, venue for tomorrows final match, and a relatively light training just to stretch the weary legs and get some focus back into the minds. Trained til 6pm and then a New Zealand traditional "feed" of fish, sausages and chips in your lap at the ground. From here we headed out to the Public Community Hot Pools for a splash and ensure everyone had a shower before bed.


Illawarriors Under 13 Tour - Day 8

Preparations v Wakatipu at Queenstown

Buffet breakfast and match preparations at the Lodge before walking down the hill to the Park for the match against the Wakatipu Under 13/14 College team. 

A few larger lads turned out for the locals but the match was very well contested with Wakatipu scoring 5 tries to Illawarriors 4. However fitness and determination almost had Illawarra coming back from a halftime deficit of 7-17, then midway thru the 2nd half behind 7-29 before tries to Diego Hehei, a penalty try and Harrison Agnew getting across the line the final score was 24-29 in favour of Wakatipu – but a few more minutes would have been interesting...........

Beautiful weather again and following speeches and presentations we headed for the Gondola and Luge rides for some fun and an opportunity to view the Remarkable Mountain Ranges and the sparkling waters of Lake Wakatipu. Great stuff but once the sun goes down the temperature drops.........dramatically.

Tonight along with the full support crew of parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters we had our Final team dinner at Winnie Bagoes Pizza and Pasta, an ideal location for some final speeches and a few thank-yous here and there. To cap the evening our "gentle giant" Jayden Legaspi song for his team and all the supporters – he's good, very, very good.

Then it was back up the hill for the last time as we approach our final day of our time in New Zealand.


Illawarriors Under 13 Tour - Day 9

Fergburger Breakfast at Queenstown

The World famous "Fergburger" cafe was the venue for this mornings breakfast – and certainly enjoyable it was, almost beats a pie, donut and a bottle of coke!

Again superb weather greeted us as we took a short trip out to Arrowtown for a casual walk in the sun. Arrowtown is the original gold prospectors settlement and much of the historic look has been retained.

With the return journey across the Tasman scheduled for 3pm we were at Queenstown Airport before 1pm for luggage book-in and customs clearing. While a few lads headed away with parents for a few days R & R the majority departed, hopefully, with fond memories of a pretty good tour.

For the records the Illawarriors of 2016 played 3, won 2 & lost 1. 
beat Belfast (Christchurch) 17-7
beat Pirates (Dunedin) 47-29
lost Wakatipu (Queenstown) 24-29

This years team were a great bunch of lads who enjoyed life on tour and certainly put up with all happenings on tour.

Thanks to all, once again you allowed this Kiwi to be part of the fun............DJ