The team arrived ready for a seven day tour to bond as a group, enjoy some warm weather training and work on their match fitness with two games. This trip would form a key part of the build up to the Varsity Match in December. After arriving and checking in on Wednesday evening, the team had a meeting to run through the tour objectives and core values, before ensuring a good night’s sleep.
On Thursday, six of the team including Heather and last year’s captain Abby, went to Prior Park School, Gibraltar. The girls spoke to the sixth form students and talked through their experiences of applying for and adjusting to life at Oxford. The talk went down really well with the Prior Park students, but not so much for me when the subject of losing big games at Twickenham came up!
The rest of the team did some light training on the beach in front of the hotel. A team meeting followed the lunch break before they left for the first game at Club de Rugby del Estrecho.
Ade pulled together the best local female players to create an invitation team to play Oxford. The game was competitive and Oxford ran out winners with some great handling and running. Both teams enjoyed an after match paella at Estrecho and then headed back to the hotel.
Friday was an intense training day at the home of Algeciras Rugby Club in the morning, followed by a session on the beach in the afternoon.
On Saturday, my old team El Puerto de Santa Maria was the venue for the second match of the tour. El Puerto are one of the oldest teams in Andalucia and really enjoy welcoming touring teams. Coached by Israel, a former team mate of mine and Spanish international, they are one of the best ladies teams in our area.
The game was a great advert for ladies rugby and resulted in a narrow victory for Oxford. The after-match social at El Puerto’s club house featured the classic “we’ll only stay for a half an hour” quote, then four hours later it was time to leave after a great ‘tercer tiempo’.
Sunday was a rest day watching the England RWC game at Estrecho then an afternoon exploring Gibraltar.
Monday was back to two training sessions and the weather was amazing. The team enjoyed the first-floor pool at the hotel and went out for a social in Ocean Village, Gibraltar. Earlier in the day, several players went to Sotogrande International School to chat to their potential Oxbridge candidates.
Both Prior Park and SIS were very impressed by the way the Oxford players spoke to the students and how much time they were prepared to give up. They are great role models. We feel it’s really important for the visiting teams to take any chance to interact with local schools and clubs. This is always a key part of the touring experience.
Tuesday’s S&C session in Algeciras was cut short by a spectacular fire at the port. Despite initial suspicions, nobody from the touring party was responsible. The local beach was the scene for the final training block followed by a wind-down session at the beach bar.
We really enjoyed hosting the Oxford Ladies and were gutted to see them lose the Varsity Match in the final minute having seen how much hard work they put in over the tour and how well they played over here.
We look forward to seeing them again soon.