Pupil's Success Story
A Travel Bursary to Join the School Rugby Trip to Australia
"It was really good that my school offered a variety of different sports for you to do each term. The main sports were rugby, football and cricket. There were other sports like swimming, sailing, fives, golf and water polo. You could choose any sport and get good at it. There were loads of pitches and other facilities. There were teams for all the different levels of ability so that everyone could join in. In your first year you were encouraged to try out new sports.
As my parents struggled to send me to my school and in fact they had considerable help with the fees to make it possible for me to attend the school, I never really had the opportunity to go on any school trips abroad. As a keen sportsman, missing out on opportunities such as going to Spain for a football camp was frustrating and disappointing but my parents had explained when I first started at the school that I was lucky to be there and I would not be able to join in such activities. Generally it didn’t bother me much that the other pupils at my school went on expensive holidays and I did not.
At my school I played a lot of sport and I was heavily involved in a variety of team sports. I was able to go on local trips such as some pre-season training at a local university.
I think that quite a lot of schools may give some financial assistance for trips abroad to pupils on awards who cannot afford to be included in trips. I was very fortunate to get a bursary in my final year at school to go on the Australian rugby tour which meant that I was able to go somewhere I had never been before – somewhere half way around the world.
We met everyone at the airport. I was excited because it felt great to go on a trip with my friends. I had only ever been on a plane when I was aged just one, so I didn’t remember that. We went on a long flight to Hong Kong. I had a window seat which gave me a wonderful view. We stopped in Hong Kong for a few days. We did some training and had free time to walk around the city and go wherever we wanted. We also had a few organised trips; one of my team mate’s parents worked in Hong Kong and arranged for us to go on boats around the island, finishing with a meal. We stayed in a nice plush hotel.
Hong Kong was full of huge markets that sold luxury replicas of dubious origin. I bought some headphones. Unsurprisingly they weren’t very robust and didn’t last long.
Then we flew to Australia - to Sydney and we drove to the first school that we were playing at. We were then picked up by families who were looking after a couple of us each. This was a great opportunity to meet guys from another part of the world and it was really nice to stay with families. This is what we did at every school we played at. Canberra was next, then Surfers paradise further up the East Coast. We also stayed in training camp facilities in Toowoomba. While the trip was quite rugby intensive there were still times we were allowed to walk around the city and have free time to explore And there were trips doing fun things like watching an international rugby match at the ANZ Stadium. I remember we used to get a food budget for lunch about 5 dollars which not really enough.
At Surfers Paradise Beach even though we were there winter, we still had nice weather and waves. It was an impressive beach. We hired some equipment and did some surfing.
So I went on five planes altogether and travelled to the other side of the world. It really opened up my mind. As it was the Australian winter, the weather was good for playing rugby and fortunately no-one was injured. We met other boys of our own age from other schools in Britain and also Australia. We were all playing rugby so we had lots in common straight away.
I bought some present for my family including some Kangaroo jerky for my father – which is still around somewhere as no one had the courage to eat it!
It was a really great opportunity that I had. Without the school’s financial assistance I would never have been able to do it and I would have been left out, so I am really grateful for the opportunity. Having not really travelled much ever before it was really great to see parts of the world that I had not seen before or expected to be able to see.
One of the things which was a little bit frustrating was my lack of spending money but at the end of the day I was lucky to be there.
The families we stayed did kind things for us. I went to the cinema with one family and another had organised with all the other families a “bring your English guest” party which was a really nice, funny memory. I suppose one of the stranger things I ended up doing was staying on a farm with a family and they took us out kangaroo shooting.
The trip was rugby intensive, as you would expect being a rugby tour. We played quite a few games in the two and a half weeks we were away. At the end of that we were tired and pleased to be going home.
The trip opened my eyes to world and made me want to go and explore other places."