On the last weekend of April, a fantastic turnout of 109 Barnes minis players, from under 7 to under 10 age groups, with over 100 parents and family members along for the weekend, made the trip to south Wales to play in the Ospreys Challenge festival at Tondu RFC near Bridgend.
So straight from school on Friday afternoon, we headed off down the M4, negotiating heavy traffic, for our beachside caravan park at Treco Bay, only to hear about yellow weather warnings with strong gales and winds gusting to 60-70 mph forecast that night along the coast.
Our caravans just about stayed on the ground as the gale blew through, cabins rocking and pitching in the early hours (no, it wasn’t the beer!) but sadly the weather forced Saturday’s matches to be cancelled. Not to be outdone, our enterprising tour organisers Mike and JT swung into action with a back-up plan, and while players enjoyed the Treco swimming pool and water slides, they negotiated the 200 tickets for us at the Principality Stadium to watch Dragons v Scarlets. So off to Cardiff for a really exciting game, Dragons down at half time but finishing 34-32, with the lead swapping hands until a last-gasp Dragons winning try.
Back at Porthcawl beach, time for a quick run out on the huge sands and then to our welcome BBQ and a convivial evening for all.
Sunday dawned much calmer and for the long awaited rugby, taking on local teams including Cwmgors, Skewen, Brynamman, Fairwater and hosts Tondu. Adjusting to the challenge of playing with different Wales RFU rules for mini rugby, the Barnes teams produced their normal free-flowing, team passing game. Some close matches and a few tough games against the more physical teams – but all the skills learned over the season were put to great use and Barnes teams all did themselves proud with fantastic teamwork and results!
So another successful tour – building friendships and facing new challenges together. Thanks to JT and Mike for organising, and to our hosts, caterers and everyone who helped – a great weekend enjoyed by all.