1995 - England & France

Pre Tour Camp Wet & windy conditions .. planes arriving late at Sydney Airport .. relief that the HSC & other senior studies were now over .. nervous anticipation over what was to follow.. searching fitness test.. intense training sessions .. bus travel over Sydney . team building both on and off the field .. negotiated code of conduct and tour commitments .. guest speakers in Arthur Beetson, David Hoskins, Frank Ponissi .. still raining .. medical check by Dr Nathan Gibbs .. academy .... routine.. no one to tidy up after you.. new "roomies" and many stories into the night honing in on tour responsibilities .. Sizzler & trying to remember what you ordered.. movies .. additional plays to remember.. cough medicine in November .. still raining .. team photo at the Sydney Football Stadium.. final training and mud slides .. a dinner at Sydney City RLFC .. best wishes from the ASS RLC officials and members of the 1991 Australian Schoolboys touring team final day.. we are ready to tour .. thank you to the Rugby League Academy for your help ..packing.. how can I get all that gear into my bags off to the Airport.. let's go to London to enjoy some fine weather!!

Saturday 25 November Flew into Heathrow Airport in the early morning a coach to Earl's Court and check into the Albany Hotel.. very small rooms.. off to training in Hyde Park . . . a good opportunity to take in the sights of London streets .. free afternoon of shopping or watching the London Broncos game.. dinner in the hotel & head into central London for shopping & sightseeing via the fabulous Underground rail... general consensus was that the inner city was far too crowded and busy.. some new experiences from locals selling drugs off the footpath as if it was a fruit market to the locals giving bodgie directions.
- Shane Walker

Sunday 26 November A half -day guided tour around the sights of London on a coach... Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower of London, London Bridge and many more.. tour guides Chris & John were amazed at our knowledge of local History & Geography.. Teddy learnt a lesson in security when he put down his costly food to take a picture only to find that a Beefeater snatched it to feed the birds at the Tower of London .. a weights session at Earl Court Gym.. a free afternoon where most of the boys went to Madame Tussauds wax museum.. a visit to London's Hard Rock Cafe.. return to the Albany Hotel & a relaxing recount of our adventures in central London and a chance to mingle with ex-pats and locals.
- Brad Thompson

Monday 27 November An early check out.. bags congesting the hotel's foyer.. a coach trip to Gatwick Airport.. meeting stringent airport security checks .. finding that batteries activate security scans .. more duty free shopping.. a rough take off which had butterflies in some tummies & Jarred asking why we couldn't catch a bus.. arrival at Toulouse Airport to be met by Didier & Paul & Jean Claude (van Busdriver).. little English spoken .. a lot of nodding and smiling.. arrival at the Hotel Ibis.. team dinner and the first taste of the legendry french rolls.. a walk downtown and an early night.
- Ted Simpson

Tuesday 28 November Now down to the job at hand .. today we trained twice at the Sports University (C.R.E.P.S.) .. the weather was really fine.. teams were announced for both games of the French leg and everyone is a little nervous as game day is finally getting closer.. the junior teams trained before us in the afternoon.. plenty of interest.. autographs... the evening dinner was held at the Toulouse Rugby League .. a top meal hosted by their president Coco.. Dennis Moran gets a chance to prove his worth as an after-dinner speaker.. Bruce & JD return to the Sports Uni to speak on coaching and training methods in Australia .. the rest of us return to the hotel for an early night.. we meet up with the supporters group who have arrived from Paris.
- Daniel Quinn

Wednesday 29 November - Game 1: Australian Schoolboys versus French Selection Another early morning with a trip to Pamiers .. Our first game ..the feeling of the players include relief, nervousness but all have the that fire in their eyes . through the French countryside .. winter and between farming seasons.. "is dirt all they grow here??" .. an official reception at the Town Hall with television coverage .. lunch at school Lycee du Castella .. to the Stade Balussou for the game.. a good crowd.. a good start to the tour with a 44-16 victory against a strong French Selection team including the Moroccan World Cup hooker.. some need for adjustment to rule interpretations.. Dennis Moran injured his ankle and Trent Barrett damaged his kidneys in a collision with one of our players .. Matthew Gidley gets the official Player of the Match while Royston gets the Players Player vote.. a lavish reception followed the games back at the school traditional French food .. all players received commemorative T shirts.. a great effort considering the school was responsible for promoting and presenting the game in this city.. well done Madame Couret, staff and students.. a quiet trip home watching the video of the game and receptions and reflecting on an excellent day.
- David Pearce

Thursday 30 November Today we played the tourist game .. a visit to Carcassonne, a medieval town surrounded by a huge wall in the south of France.. official duties first at Paul Sabatier School in the modem part of the city which has a junior rugby league development unit we shared ideas on rugby league and they were excited to learn about the opportunities for schoolboy players in Australia.. they were also amazed at Quinny's own estimate of his speed over lOOm.. they accompanied us to the walled city (first built by Roman soldiers and was rebuilt in 600AD) and gave us a better chance to appreciate the French way of life and see things made a thousand years earlier .. then off to Limoux which is another rugby league town.. a visit to the Coverland tile factory .. watching a game of bocce .. an excellent dinner with players and officials of the Limoux Xl 11 team celebrating Ata's birthday .. another hour trip .. back to Toulouse .. bed.. by now we didn't care how small the rooms were.
- Jarrod O'Doherty

Friday 1 December Training in the morning.. at last a chance to do some washing.. a new experience for many of us .. get things in order.. another training session at the Toulouse Football Stadium .. boys with injuries went to the French Rugby Union doctor at the C.R.E.P.S. .. evening meal at Hotel Ibis .. a visit to the centre of Toulouse that night for those interested .. the officials take advantage of the cheapest beer in town.. at McDonalds.
- Dennis Moran

Saturday 2 December The day before the first test .. another training session in the morning and then had the rest of the day to ourselves .. Trent is sent to a private hospital for more tests on his damaged kidneys.. another official reception at the Hotel that night with officials from the Midi Pyrenees league more television interviews.. an early night .. the test match is on everyone's mind.
- Leigh McWilliams

Sunday 3 December - Game 2 Australian Schoolboys versus France The highlight of the French leg.. a Test match.. for most of us it was our first Test match playing for Australia .. Forest Gump took our minds off another hour journey m ram .. arrive at Villefranche de Rouergue to the stadium which was like a big velodrome with houses on the hills which surrounded the oval .. early games including one called off when all the players and officials were involved in a brawl .. standing on the oval listening to Australia's national anthem.. fire in our eyes .. the French were also determined and gave a good display .. Duncan comes off with a lacerated lip.. gocs back on only to gash his eye another trip to the hospital for Kerry .. everyone plays well.. a final scoreline of 46 - 12 and a 6-26 penalty count.. Kim Corbett wins Players Player and Mat Gidley is their Man of the Match .. a number of receptions .. Happy Days .. the mayoral reception under the Town Hall.. a banquet meal at the top restaurant. three cheers for keeping our undefeated record in France hip hip haray
- Kevin McGumness

Monday 4 December A tough and tiring day .. an early departure packing bags and finding room keys .. to Toulouse Airport..... farewell to the excellent hosts .. and also to the different language, food and culture . and farewell to the bread sticks . ."my gums are bleeding from them" -. a stopover at Gatwick where we topped up on more conventional food.. another flight to Manchester .. where we were met by our hosts from the Cumbria region .. Alfie Sim, Jackie Reid, Tommy Taylor & Mike Cooper.. and suddenly we realised that the English have their distinctive dialects .. a three hour trip to Whitehaven and the Sumrnergrove Hostel .. an absolutely huge fish meal served by ladies who could recommend the food .. finding that the hostel was well equipped with snooker and pool tables in a well equipped games room.. any spare time will be well used here.. an early night but not too many were protesting.
- Andrew McFadden

Tuesday 5 December Duncan was responsible for writing up this day.. but little could be seen through a closed eye and fat lip .. yet he did consider himself a little lucky because he was excused from training at Copeland Athletics Field in what was extremely cold conditions .. snow and sleet sweeping across a bogy' ground .. the hardest tackling bags ever made . Trent got another injury diagnosis and decided it would be better for him to return with his father to Australia rather than hope to be fit for later games . "Axe" Atkins also finds out how efficient American Express are in replacing lost travellers cheques .. an afternoon visit to Whitehaven, a fishing port .. more shopping & haircuts .. some players learnt the need to be on time.. a team meeting that night to focus on the games to come. a pool competition.. bed.
- Duncan MacGillivray

Wednesday 6 December - Game 3: Australian Schoolboys versus Cumbria A morning training session ~. much sharper still very cold (even compared to Canberra) ..back to Summergrove for lunch, washing, rest & game preparation.. team meeting and game plan to defeat the current County champions .. off to the Recreation Ground to the smallest dressing shed in the game of rugby league and low candle-powered lights.. despite the conditions we absolutely blitzed them to score a 54-0 win.. one of our best efforts which sent a very strong message to the BARLA officials that this Australian Schoolboys team was one of the best.. Matthew Gidley wins another Man of the Match and Steven Crouch wins our Players Player.. At the reception we presented Aifie Sim with an Australian Schoolboys rugby league jersey to acknowledge his super efforts in looking after Matthew McKee who was seriously injured in Whitehaven during the previous Schoolboys tour a great moment..
- Royston Lightning

Thursday 7 December Another early morning to pack bags and wait for the coach to take us to Leigh.. farewell to Trent.. the scenic tour through the Cumbrian Lakes .. snow everywhere from the cold snap .. onto the motorway and to the Greyhound Hotel in Leigh in the early afternoon.. Bernie Langley would be our host.. lunch and then a quick trip to Wigan for a mayor reception.. a touring tradition.. back to Leigh for the evening meal before most headed back to Wigan for late night shopping.. a rugby league mad town where the girls really appreciated good looking rugby league players .. the shopping was cheap too .. plenty of Wigan memorabilia.. back to the hotel and to a lively Christmas party featuring the nurses from Leigh hospital.
- Brian Leauma

Friday 8 December - Game 4: Australian Schoolboys versus Lancashire Only a light training run at the Leigh Miners ground.. Dennis resumed training in the hope of being fit for the next game.. still very cold.. JD proves that the last four lunches of tuna & salad sandwiches weren't a fluke .. its part of the "Balmain Diet".. "doesn't do them too much good either" .. more ice needed after training as the minor injuries start to mount up . back to the hotel for game preparation .. now a standard routine .. to Hilton Park Stadium for 7.30 kick off today.. now freezing . a good ground.. good opposition but another sweet victory . 58-2.. a night for the "Two Ronnies" .. Ronnie Davis was Players Player & Ronald Jones was their Man of the Match .. the official reception at Leigh Rugby League club .. photos of previous stars on the wall .. stars of tomorrow playing the gratitude game.. back to the hotel and yet another Christmas party .. a late night featuring Eagles music & players and officials enjoying another great win .. the tradition continues
- Ronald Jones

Saturday 9 December A genuine free day.. so we took advantage of it.. a later breakfast followed by a trip to Central Park, the home of the champion Wigan Rugby League side.. spend heaps of money.. over to the gas showrooms for more shopping in the markets .. back to the hotel for lunch.. then off to watch a Regal Trophy quarter final match between Wigan & Widnes at Widnes .. another souvenir shop.. and then a great experience being part of a British rugby league crowd who even flock onto the ground much to Andy Farrell's annoyance.. Andy Gregory made a tackle .. Wigan fished up winning in extra time.. dinner back at the hotel.. "into our love gear" for a night on the town catch a taxi.. fifty pounds later we realised the taxi driver certaly took us for a ride.. discos that weren't playing Christmas carols .. women of all ages .. celebrities again .. a well deserved good time. "You boys were great to be with and I'll miss you all. thanks for the memories.
- Ata Isarabhakdi

Sunday 10 December Breakfast .. tired from the previous night packing & another frantic search for room keys..onto another coach.. farewell to our friends in the Wliite Rose region.. across the Perinine Range and into Red Rose territory.. Hotel Campanile in Wakefield.. another beautiful hotel in the C.B.D. .. met Ken Everson and Martin Ward.. and the bus leaves us .. a walk to training at the local school .. ice on the ground.. a torrid session to run the effects of last night out of our system Royston pulls the hammy .. then back to the hotel.. Sunday.. a day of rest.
- Dallas Hood

Monday 11 December A change to routine. a workout in the local gym Kieron pumps up the treadmill speed to the max jumps on and is flung across the room .. just escapes serious damage .. the rest of the boys become very wary of the exercise equipment and use it sparingly.. JD pumps up the blood pressure ... a leisurely walk back to the hotel before the afternoon session .. back to the school oval shrouded in the thickest fog ever.. blocking Out all vision .. but a strong training session compensating for the lack of match time everyone is busting for another game .. the evening meal and a chance to celebrate Hoody's birthday .. he made a speech whilst we ate the cake.. another chance for an early night.
- Kieron Herring

Tuesday 12 December - Game 5: Australian Schoolboys versus Yorkshire Another walk through the fog and cold weather.. training went smoothly and the boys were keen to return to the playing paddock .. another easy afternoon with shopping in Wakefield or rest in the hotel .. the bus returned , so off to Featherstone for the game against Yorkshire.. the pre-game warm up made it evident that the Yorkshire boys would have been better off "staying in bed with a cup of tea watching Coronation Street" .. the game went as planned and resulted in a convincing 52-4 win.. Duncan got his marching orders but was later exonerated but while he was off the Yorkshire boys scored the only try against us in England & went into a state of delirium.. a national hero was born.. Kim Corbett claimed their Man of the Match award while Dallas Hood made his long awaited comeback to play a blinder & win the Players Player vote. Matthew Gidley proved his consistency as a kicker by missing nearly every goal attempt but also had the excuse that he was too tired from scoring tries (four in total) .. an after match reception at Featherstone's Rugby League Club and the realisation that the next game was a Test against the Poms .. another good day's work.
- Matthew Gidley

Wednesday 13 December Up at the crack of dawn (9:OOam) for breakfast before heading off to play the "tourist game" .. first a visit one the supporters group's hotel . a veritable palace called Oulton Hall . a recuperation session in the pool and spa.. then off to York to take in the sights .. the Minster, Jorvik Centre, The Shambles.. some spent a fortune on clothes & gifts, haircuts and eating good food.. we left York after dark (about 5:OOpm) for a pub near Leeds which boasts to be the home of rugby league.. then back to the Campanile .. after dinner some of the boys took the Opportunity, to catch a movie in Wakefield.
- Ronnie Davis

Thursday 14 December The routine of moving hotels was getting easier.. this time we were off to Runcorn near Widnes to a first class hotel .. the Post House.. meet our new host Terry Parle . down to the Widnes ground for a strong training session .. the intensity was building for the test match tomorrow night.. lunch and then a session of ball work.. a great dinner of pasta and then the opportunity of using the hotel's excellent facilities including a fitness and leisure centre and a pool room and new release videos.. an early night before the big one just about the guys "it has been a pleasure playing football in the best team I've ever played in
- Steven Crouch

Friday 15 December - Game 6: Australian Schoolboys versus BARLA Tapering down for tonight's game .. preparation has been intense but worth it .. all the boys have stack together and made things better for all of us .. now we have time for our own personal space to prepare .. the final team meeting.. onto the bus with a deep resolution to stick it to the Poms onto the ground where we saw Wigan play last week.. now it was our turn.. a 62-2 belting which was the result of tough physical play by the forwards and genuine speed in the backs.. Duncan MacGillivray won the Players Player vote.. "Axe".. looking for the role of film.. official reception.. Ron Jones win BARLA's Man of the Match back to the hotel and then to Werrington for the largest disco in the world.. an interesting night to be had by all .. "this would be the best bunch of blokes I've ever toured and played with .. both players and staff .. and this is something I'll always treasure & remember for years to come
- Owen Craigie

Saturday 16 December Another free day .. for most the day started in the afternoon.. the officials & some of the boys went to Liverpool .. Albert Dock, the site of The Cavern, street entertainment, Beatles nostalgia.. while others stayed & recovered by using the hotel's leisure facilities .. team dinner .. and then another invitation to a another Christmas disco at the hotel.. into the early hours of the morning.. waiting for the Mike Tyson fight .. only lasted a few seconds.. a few hours sleep before moving to yet an other hotel.
- Kim Corbert

Sunday 17 December Grily a few hours sleep.. Pearco & Lomu sleep in meet Alan Forth .. all sleep on the bus .. coach driver wants to tell us tourist info.. Hull.. arrive at the Royal Hotel.. actually in the CBD.. off to watch Hull Kingston Rovers vs Swinton .. Sam Stewart displays all the skills .. back to the hotel for spa & pool .. an early night.. "we all stuck together, players & management, to make it an enjoyable and unforgettable experience, with the best bunch of people on and off the field
- Nathan Cayless

Monday 18 December Boys are pretty happy about the accommodation start of the last week.. only two games to go to keep the record intact.. want to go home with that undefeated record .. training at The Circle .. an absolute belter in boggy conditions but the boys were keen again.. we are now used to the routine of life on tour.. all the training has paid off and full credit must go to all the staff .. the Hull supporters made sandwiches & drinks for the boys which was most appreciated.. no tuna!! .. back to the Royal for a free afternoon ... pool, sleeping or shopping .. early dinner .. off to the movie for Batman Forever & Pizza Hut .. a big surprise for everyone back at the hotel.. a College Ball with girls our own age all around the place.. they sought us out but we stood firm.. game day tomorrow.. "to everyone on tour there have been a lot of records and friendships made and it is by far the best team f have played in and I'll never forget this chance of a lifetime"..
- Danny Buderus

Tuesday 19 December - Game 7 Australian Schoolboys versus Humberside Training was ordinary .. got a rev up .. but it would be the Hull boys who would feel the effects later that night .. another 17 scalps to put in the Australian Schoolboys trophy cabinet.. but they were keen on getting a few scalps themselves.. some picked more fights than they had runs.. this only fired us up & we eventually destroyed them 70-0.. Leigh scores his best try of the tour and Jarrod kicks a sensational conversion from the sideline .. Ron Jones has to ask the ref what a yellow card stands for.. at the reception Tobes & Beech made an extra presentation when they provided the men in the middle with a few rule books with sections on head high & illegal tackles highlighted .. back to the hotel.. Thommo proves that he is not impressed by fake tans .. Quinny invites other hotel guests tojoin in a ftm game in the hotel corridor.. "I'd like to thank the players, staff & supporters for their tremendous efforts throughout the tour.. it was a dream to make this side and you blokes are simply the best.. this is something I can never forget..
- David Atkins

Wednesday 20 December The smoothest hotel departure .. now tour veterans .. on the bus .. back to the Campanile Hotel at Wakefield.. everyone totally besotted by The Lion King .. & another warm welcome from Atison & Eric .. meet up with Martin & Ken.. off to see Castleford vs St Helens as guests of Castleford RLFC .. cold night.. presented to the crowd at halftime.. Ron in no hurry to go home.. not much !! .. a quietness in the camp .. a realisation that the tour was almost over and that we had one last hurdle before realising our dream... everyone sad to be leaving yet everyone wanting to get home..

Thursday 21 December Final training sessions on the hill .. one last match .. a chance for everyone to play in a test match .. no longer trying to match other tours .. we were creating the legend of our own.. and it would be complete tomorrow night .. team meeting signatures on booklets and posters .. a few presentations .. total commitment to completing the tour with the same high standards that have existed throughout. .. a memory of the tour.. when Ronnie Davis was asked by a BARLA official if he had got all his Christmas presents yet Ronnie's reply.. "Yes. We've smashed every Pom we have played, I've played in my first test, I have captained Australia, and this is our chance to be the best schoolboys team ever..

Friday 22 December - Game 8: Australian Schoolboys versus BARLA Snow in the morning.. freezing conditions . no training.. but get everything packed & ready to fly home next morning. we are ready to play anyhow .. afternoon at leisure .. off to Batley .. a ground with a difference . well stopped to allow rain and grass to dry off.. and we ran over the Poms to win 42-2 .. placing a 100 points difference in the two test matches.. an excellent victory considering the conditions and the fact that BARLA had presented a much more committed opposition..Danny scores four tries . .early shower for Kel Royston also had his kicking boots on & kicked as many wide goals tonight as we kicked all tour we had lived up to our own expectations with flying colours .. victory was complete a big thank you to the BARLA officials at the Batle RLFC .. Danny deservedly receives both man of the match and Players Player.. what a tribute to a boy who smashed both bones in his ankle 12 weeks earlier.. a final official reception .. many thanks and tributes to our BARLA hosts .. back on the bus & to Wakefield . our own presentation ceremony .. the opportunity for each player to speak on his feelings of the tour .. a magic moment .. last few hours in wakefield .. back to the motel .. onto the bus .. Manchester Airport .. Heathrow .. home .. family friends .. the same players who had apprehensively left Australia over a month earlier now had similar feelings about retuning home .. they realised tlhe value of the experience and the magnificent contribution each member of the squad made to make this tour an outstanding success. We made it happen.


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