Junior Branch boys relish rugby and hockey trip to Wales

UCS Junior Branch pupils have taken part in a successful sports tour to South Wales where the school’s Under-10 and Under-11 rugby and hockey players competed in matches and visited the Welsh national stadium in Cardiff.

The boys were the guests of men’s top-flight hockey and rugby teams Cardiff & Met and Cardiff Rugby, who organised training sessions for the Junior Branch squads in addition to a series of matches against local opposition.

JB Headmaster, Lewis Hayward, commented: “The rugby and hockey tours were highly successful and I know from talking to the boys involved how much they enjoyed their time in South Wales and benefited from the fixtures against local sides.”

The pupils’ enjoyment of their long weekend in Wales was prefigured by a coach journey from Hampstead to Cardiff that fairly raced by – thanks in part to the film they watched, and also to their stopover at a Hollywood Bowl for lunch and bowling. “The bowling was really fun but my favourite part was watching the teachers play. Let’s just say that some teachers did well and some didn’t!” said Year 6 pupil Benjy Roche.

The hockey contingent had a match upon arrival in the Welsh capital, against a Cardiff & Met representative team, and “even though we lost, it was really fun,” said Year 6 pupil Kai Iwakura. “It was a close game with goals scored on both sides and we all had great fun,” added Sammy Lavy from Year 5.

There was Friday-night action for the rugby cohort too, and the boys acquitted themselves well in their fixtures as well as in the next day’s training session with Cardiff Rugby. Not only were the training session and facilities great, but so too was the curry served at the hosts’ training ground.

The hockey players also had a Saturday-morning training session led by specialist coaches, where the boys learned and practised new and difficult skills. The entire JB party then reconvened for a tour of the Principality Stadium, delving both into the history of Wales’s national stadium and into the Welsh Rugby Union shop! Later the boys attended an England Hockey Men’s Premier Division match between Cardiff & Met and Beeston.

On the final morning, the hockey contingent played a second game against Cardiff & Met, before “unfortunately” having to head back to London. “When we got back, we were given souvenirs and prizes from Wales, which will help us to remember that long, fun weekend,” added Sammy, while Kai concluded: “The hockey tour was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!”

Likewise, the rugby tour ended with further fixtures played on the Sunday morning – and more commendable performances against tough local teams. “The tour was an amazing experience filled with fun activities. I would highly recommend going next year if you can,” summarised Benjy.

The rugby section of the trip was led by Dai Cook with assistance from Laurence Danvers, Mark Lall-Chopra and Jasper McNally-Drew; James Willis spearheaded the hockey activities accompanied by Dominic Edwards, Vicki Lim-Bettes and Jonah Howe.

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