Eastbourne Rugby Club’s Under 16s have just returned from a five day tour to Barcelona. After succeeding in raising enough funds to go on the tour itself, playing in Spain was as much of a challenge – but the team battled away and returned with flying colours

The tour to Barcelona, which was supported financially by many a local business inspired by the team’s high calibre dedication over the last four seasons, was a resounding success for Eastbourne Rugby Club’s Under 16s team. A grand total of over £25,000 was raised by players, parents, coaches and business sponsors over 12 months through a variety of fundraising events, including golf days and quizzes.

IMG_0091Lead Coach and Eastbourne RFC Junior Chair, Mike Chapman commented: “There was really only one big-ticket fundraiser which was an overnight sponsored static cyclathon at the start of the Rugby World Cup which netted us over £3,500. Apart from that it has taken sheer graft through small fundraising initiatives, such as the town-wide Penny Collection, to help us meet our objectives. Special thanks are due to Adrian at the Hurst Arms in Willingdon Road who has hosted the tour committee on numerous occasions and who has supported us throughout.”

The positive response was a pleasant surprise for Colin Dowle, Team Coach, who gives his thanks: “The number of sponsors wanting to be involved was astonishing. Our sincere thanks go out to City Gym and to PCR but also to Vosseler, Wood & Pilcher, Sovereign Construction, Surrey Nanosystems, Millwood Homes, East Sussex Golf Academy and to First Aid For You.”

IMG_0095The tour itself was underway with a challenging game against Catelldefels RUC, which saw Harvey Warren sustain an ankle injury. The team soon made it back on their feet though, with a hat-trick of tries from centre Angus Bingham. The second game saw play against Sant Cugat Rugby, who have the reputation of being one of the best youth teams in Spain. Despite the challenge of an early 14-0 lead, determined play continued to gain them an end result of 19-all: an astonishing come-back from the Eastbourne team!

Mike shared his delight with the outcome of the tour overall: “The tour committee started the planning for this trip well over a year ago and we set ourselves two goals; to raise sufficient funds through sponsorship and other fundraising activities that every one of the 25 players in this squad would be able to travel free of charge and to give these players the rugby experience of a lifetime. In both respects the tour has proved a complete success.”

IMG_0097The tour proved the amazing progression of this team over the years, and certainly created some fantastic memories for the players, some of whom had played as a team for up to 9 years, having joined Eastbourne Rugby Club as minis. Now at the end of their time together, Chapman reflected: “The thing that has impressed me with this set of players over the last four years is that the vast majority of the squad attend local state schools where rugby opportunities are limited. They invariably overcame bigger sides with a better rugby pedigree through a team spirit that only touring together can create.”

He adds: “Coaching these boys has been a challenge and a pleasure. The successes we have achieved would not have been possible without the determination of the players and the fantastic support of their parents. I will miss them all.”