12 Aug 2018
The Adventure Continues.

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Since the last blog entry there has indeed been much to write home about. For starters, our matches against in Mendoza, as I am sure you have seen from the match reports, were nearly the perfect showings on our part. Against a team that was by no means a weak outfit, both teams looked a class above with a pace that could not be matched and a lethal offload game, supported by a fierce defence that conceded only seven points all day.

Next morning, we had an early start before saying goodbye to our hosts in Mendoza, with whom we had become rather friendly. After meeting back at the rugby club and having one last look at where he memorable performances of the day before had taken place, we headed for the hills, and by that, I mean we drove into the Andes. There we experienced something that none of us will forget for a very long time, if at all. In spite of the low water levels, the white water rafting took us meandering through the Andes, and presented us with some simply awe-inspiring vistas which took our mind off the intense numbing and aching sensations in our limbs, courtesy of melted glacier water.

The rest of the day was spent in the city centre of Mendoza, having a late lunch and stocking up on supplies for the mammoth coach journey to be embarked upon that evening. The coach journey to Rosario took more-or-less 13 hours, and sleeping from our dinner on the coach until we reached our destination definitely seemed the way to go.

As we arrived in Rosario and dragged our more than drowsy bodies from the coach and encountered our first hint of fresh air in a little while, it could be said that we were rather pleased to arrive and, given our appetites on the tour so far, absolutely ecstatic to find some breakfast in the town centre. After this most fundamental of things to do on the trip, we did what had become somewhat of a ritual on this tour – our post-travel park session.

At the conclusion of this new tradition, we set-off for Old Resians Club, just outside Rosario. Old Resians struck me as a very family-orientated club, which was highlighted by the fact that my host plays for the club now, years after his father did the same. Moreover, it was seldom seen that when two people went past each other at the club, they did not say, at the very least, a quick hello and shake hands. To me, it seemed as though even if your family had no real convection to the club other than taking you to it to play, the people at the club were like your second family, such was he atmosphere that exuded from the club. At the club on Thursday, we devoured a lunch before having a more formal training session on one of the club’s pitches, after which we met our new hosts and enjoyed our first evening with them.

Our pre-match preparation on Friday was something that I think it is fair to say that few rugby players will experience. If the more than competitive go-karting was not enough, then watching messes Finch, Grewcock and Williams belt out a Katy Perry number, followed by Mr Jarvis’ dance to ‘Im sexy and I know it’ at the track’s karaoke machine definitely got us in the mood to take on the Argentinians in the afternoon.

The matches in the afternoon began with the seconds taking on an Old Resians team and after a hard-fought hour, for most of which the scores were very tight, Old Resians won, however once again, there was a plethora of positives to be taken away, not least the way that the team fronted up to a physical team. The first team, taking inspiration from the fight and ambition that the seconds showed, came back to win in dramatic circumstances after a very scrappy first half. With a faltering line-out and some new combinations in the backs, it took a while for the team to settle into the game, but after our first try, which levelled the scores on the stroke of half-time, Oundle looked by far the better outfit. The team’s patience was tested by an even more physical opposition, who demonstrated this physicality in less than legal ways at times, and amongst a few frustrating passages of play, in one of which another try was conceded, the team produced a stellar finish to the game which once again exemplified the style of rugby that this tour has aimed to implement. The ambition and creativity were evident, the speed of play was unable to be matched by the opposition in the closing stages, and the abundance of desire and refusal to give-in were what won the game for Oundle with about two minutes left on the clock. Considering the circumstances, with key players injured, and people roped-in from the seconds to play again, this was most certainly a great escape.

After a night in which there were many festivities enjoyed by our touring party at the hands of our hosts, we once again met at the rugby club after bidding our hosts farewell. The family element of the Old Resians club was never more evident than on Saturday morning. Along the side of the packed car park was a multitude of different fixtures being played by a host of different age groups. Families were wondering up and down the club and the whole place had a wonderful feel about it. It was amazing to experience the most pure form of the game we all love on the other side of the world. The closest thing that I can relate it to is Saturday morning youth club football in the UK, but it wasn’t quite the same, though I can’t put my finger on what it was that made it so different.

After a burger at the club, we headed off on our travels once again. In spite of the journey to Buenos Aires being nine hours shorter than the one from Mendoza to Rosario, thanks to the long day before, much of the trip was equally sedate. In Buenos Aires we checked into our hotel and have just come back from a team dinner in which I believe a steak the size of our plates was on the menu for everyone. ‘Riquísimo!’