05 Aug 2018
The Full Chilean Experience

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It would be difficult for the last two mornings to have been any more different from the first. The intense mist which surrounded the runway on Thursday morning is now a distant memory, in my case, as I have had the pleasure of waking up in my host family’s house at the foot of the Andes mountains and having an unobstructed view of their snow-capped peaks. I know I’m not the only one to experience this luxury, but whilst some of our group are halfway up the aforementioned mountains, others find themselves in very different areas of the vast city of Santiago. The gorgeous surroundings, however, were not confined to the windows of our homes for the last couple of days. In fact, we had the fortune of both training and playing our first matches of the tour with the surreal backdrop of the mountains very much in view. Moreover, our activity on Friday morning was to travel up a fairly substantial hill in Santiago and experience the city and mountains of all their glory as they fitted into the same exquisite view which we could view from the train up the hill, the summit of the hill, and the cable car which delivered us back to street level.The matches alluded to above, which took place on Saturday at lunchtime, (bearing in mind that we had only trained as teams together for two hours previously) gave signs of big things to come, if these things hadn’t already fully surfaced.

The first and second team squads’ fixtures were against MacKay School and the Grange School and were structured so that each team would play a game of 20 minutes against each of the other schools. The firsts team won their opening fixture against MacKay in convincing style (14-12), before losing to the Grange (5-26), who looked like a fairly formidable outfit. In spite of the loss to the Grange, the firsts produced a stunning team try that encapsulated all of the creativity and principles of play that the coaches have tried to instil in us, by going almost the length of the field to score after a plethora of passes and offloads.The seconds, on the other hand, were unlucky to narrowly lose the first game to MacKay (5-9), but in the second game, the Grange showed their class to wrap up the game before a resurgent Oundle demonstrated fight, intensity and quality by dominating the second half (14-26). In spite of the two losses, there were plenty of positives to be taken, particularly by scoring two tries against a strong Grange side.

After the fixtures on Saturday, we enjoyed a post-match late lunch with the Grange before saying goodbye to our hosts and a group of people with whom it was clear we got along with very well.The two nights of billeting were an overwhelming success and it was with a heavy heart that we had to say goodbye, not only to the boys who hosted us individually, but to their friends as well, who we got to know well as many of us met up as groups on either of the two nights we stayed with them for. Tomorrow, we will be heading to Mendoza in Argentina, with an afternoon flight, on which it is safe to say that there will be a more.

Alex Cunningham (Lx)