— Kevin Moggridge, Director of Rugby, Oxford University Ladies RFC
Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate Rugby & Netball Tour Feedback
We took a squad of U16 rugby players and U17 netball players on this tour during our October Half-Term. We were based in the San Roque area and played our matches in Gibraltar, Estrecho Club de Rugby, Marbella Netball Club and Marbella RFC.
Our accommodation was of a high standard with clean double and triple rooms for students and the option of a single room for staff.
The meals were all served in a buffet style offering a good range of options for students and chefs were on hand if any allergy or food preferences needed attention. The wide range of options including vegetarian dishes meant everyone was happy and amply fed.
Transport was always on time and the bus being with us all day made life very easy and we had flexibility to change timings if required.
Our rugby team was strong, including several members of the England U16 squad, I was concerned that we would be too good for the local opposition, however we were able to play our squad members in the Estrecho fixture which worked well. The reception and after match function at Estrecho were excellent.
For the Marbella match Guy Leleu, who organised our tour, added some players from other clubs to strengthen the team and this resulted in a competitive fixture. Again, the welcome and after match social was enjoyed by everyone.
The training facilities were of a high standard as was the equipment supplied to our coaches Henry Paul and Rob Rawlinson.
The Netball fixtures were both of a high standard and the level of Netball in Gibraltar is high and we played against several players from their National squad. The Marbella game was not as competitive, and they needed to add some older players to ensure the game remained close.
We had an additional activity in Tarifa which featured surfing, paddle boarding and kite flying. The beach was spectacular and the staff friendly and very experienced. It would definitely be on the itinerary when we return on our next tour.
The tour was well organised, the fixtures worked well, and everyone enjoyed training in the sun!
Thanks again to Guy for his help and we will look to come back when we have the opportunity.
Richard Mayhew Director of Sport Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate
We have had an amazing time; the feedback from both the boys and parents has been overwhelmingly brilliant.
All the arrangements went like clockwork and we were really impressed with how little we had to do once we arrived, with Guy dealing with all aspects of the tour for us; which just made the tour so much more enjoyable.
The hospitality shown by the teams we played was great and I would thoroughly recommend anyone look at the region for a Rugby Tour, the facilities were brilliant, and the weather certainly helped.
I can’t thank you enough for everything you did to make it such a successful trip and for the amazing experience everyone had.
Prior to our arrival in Spain we made a number of specific requests to our ground handler. Specific items were removed from the hotel rooms to make them ‘school child’ friendly including room-room telephones. Hotel rooms were equipped with linen on the beds, spare pillows and blankets in the wardrobes and towels in most bathrooms (those without towels were rectified very quickly).
Upon arrival at the airport we were met by Guy Leleu who escorted us to our coach. The driver helped load bags onto the coach which was modern, clean and in excellent working order (seat belts, air conditioning) The journey to our hotel was smooth and was of the expected timeframe. During the journey we were given keys to the hotel rooms (two per room, one for each pupil) and they were labelled correctly as per the list of rooming we sent out prior to departure. This made handing out the room keys very simple and the process of checking in very quick. Upon arrival at the hotel the pupils were able to go immediately to their rooms where they collected a large bottle of water each. This was an additional feature arranged by Guy to ensure pupils had drinking water after a long journey.
Travel arrangements throughout the trip were generally very good. For all but one of our excursions we were in a modern and luxury coach. For one journey we were in an older coach that had some problems with seat belts. These faults were rectified immediately by the company but we then returned to using our original coach. On the majority of journeys the coach remained on location with us, allowing pupils to leave items they didn’t need on the coach (including valuables) and also meant they could return to the coach without issue if they forgot something. On every journey the coach was on time and parked in a very suitable location to ensure the safety of those passengers boarding and disembarking.
The fixtures scheduled for us were against Bayside School in Gibraltar and Marbella Rugby club in Spain. The standard of opposition was very difficult to gauge due to our schools inexperience. However, the fixtures were of an excellent standard for our requirements and allowed the boys to play very competitive rugby (playing by rules they were used to in England) in a friendly and safe environment. Levels were fairly equal across our three teams (U12, U13 & U14) and our final results were: U12 – played 2, won 1, drew 1; U13 & U14 combined A team – played 2, won 1, lost 1; U13 & U14 combined B team – played 2, won 2. This match of standard allowed a positive but challenging standard of rugby for all sides and was safe to the point where we had no injuries of any kind throughout our 6 fixtures.
The training session at Los Pinos was excellent. The facilities were perfect for rugby training and there was more than enough space to accommodate our large squad throughout the session. The two coaches were obviously experts in their field and offered training that was suitable, beneficial and productive. The boys were kept active for the majority of the session but lower coach to player ratios would have ensured that players were waiting in lines for less time during some parts of the session. The boys were given ample water breaks and the sessions were well paced and progressive. The boys respected the coaches as they gave them clear boundaries and had high expectations of them.
The activities at Tarifa beach were a very late addition to the Itinerary, replacing Whale Watching that was deemed to be unsuitable due to the weather conditions and size of the group. In hindsight this was one of the best decisions of the trip as the beach day activities proved a resounding success. The boys took part in surfing, stand up paddle boarding and kiting. Most of these activities were new to the majority of our group and allowed the boys to be active, sociable and to learn new skills. Many of the boys were taken well out of their ‘comfort zone’ and showed considerable individual achievement. For many of these boys these activities would have taken great courage and they would have felt huge pride at their achievement. All boys learnt at least one new skill during this day and many would have learnt lots of new skills. The activities did not prove a barrier for those that were non-swimmers as the instructors adapted activities and put precautions in place. The overall experience for staff and players was excellent. Instructors were highly trained, extremely knowledgeable and very passionate in their delivery. They were patient with all players, irrelevant of their ability and potential and were excellent in their delivery of instructions throughout. Our only problem we encountered with this venue was the lack of changing space afterwards and the lack of fresh running water to rinse off sea water and sand before getting back into the coach. The weather did not help this and we acknowledge that this compounded the problem. All the equipment used was in excellent condition and was suitable for the ages in our group. The location of the activity was beyond our expectations and the whole day was a resounding success.
The Estepona Paintballing was a fantastic day out. The equipment was very high quality and we felt the additional paintballs the boys could purchase were very good value. The layout of 3 separate areas worked well allowing us to split our group into three and giving the boys three separate games. Being spread out in smaller groups gave them a very good experience and for some players this was their first time experiencing this activity. The facility was well managed and the safety briefing was clear, concise and covered all aspects of the game. Any problems with the equipment were resolved immediately and allowed boys to get straight back into the game.
The hotel far exceeded anything we could have expected. The rooms were all very clean, modern and well equipped. The beds were comfortable and the bathrooms were spacious and practical. The hotel staff were very friendly, patient and always willing to help. All the staff were fluent in English (or English speaking) and this meant the players felt comfortable approaching them and were able to converse easily. The hotel staff were visible and hard working at all times during our stay and were keen to serve and please. We were never kept waiting when we had a query or a request and everything was dealt with efficiently. Rooms were cleaned on a daily basis and where necessary linen changed. The swimming pool was clean and suitable for children and staff were quick to assist in making the players experience as good as possible (putting out the slide etc).
Food and drink in the hotel was exceptional. Every single meal that we ate in the Hotel was served hot, was nutritious and was clearly hand made with fresh ingredients. Not a single child or staff member complained once about any meal we were served and on inspection after almost every meal we saw clean plates. All the boys were well fed and no one was every hungry. The food was served with excellent portion sizes, catered for all food types and was healthy. The evening meals were always 3 courses and this was perfect after a hard days activity. Breakfast was self service but staff were always on hand to help when needed and to keep stocks replenished. The choice of menu was varied every day, original but at the same time the food was recognisable for English children and was very popular. Finding food that appeals to so many in such a large group is very skilful.
There were a variety of evening activities on offer at the hotel including karaoke, cards, television and ‘chill out space’. The hotel was very suitable for a group this size, however we were often worried about pupils accidently breaking valuable items or damaging decorative features.
I cannot recommend this trip highly enough and would certainly consider returning to this destination again. Guy made it a very special trip for us and one that the boys will remember all their lives. From a teacher’s perspective the hard groundwork was done before we arrived, as requested, and this meant things ran very smoothly during our stay. The attention to detail paid to our requests by Guy was really very much appreciated and we cannot thank him enough for the time and effort he put into making this tour so successful.
Stacia Long Teacher in charge of Rugby Graveney School
On behalf of Oxford University RFC women’s club, we found the process of working with Rugby Tour Spain very professional.
From the start, the communication process was outstanding, timely and accurate. The tour was tailored to fit our budget and we had multiple options to look at when deciding what, where and how we could conduct this tour to Spain.
We arrived in Gibraltar and were met by both representatives of the organising team (Guy & Ade) where we were directed across the border and taken to our hotel. The accommodation arranged was perfect for the needs of our group, and both the tour organising group and the hotel went out of their way to accommodate our tour, giving us a free meeting room to conduct meetings and analysis sessions in, for example.
We had an option of using both the beach and a local gym for our strength and conditioning, and the variation of this made the training both exciting and rewarding. The accommodation had a good size pool which we used for recovery and social downtime. The local beaches and parks were used by the team for team socials and meetings, with a beautiful backdrop of the rock of Gibraltar, making normal team meetings far more special.
Training venues for on-field training were of an extremely high standard. The staff at these venues were very helpful and we were aided by the tour company who accompanied us to the grounds so that they could help with translation etc.
The two matches which were arranged for us were of the exact standard we were looking for as a pre-season opposition.
Both games were played in a competitive spirit and post match, the hospitality at both clubs was second to none. The opportunity to interact with the local rugby population of this area of Spain really enhanced the tour and the outcomes we were looking for.
Local players and coaches joined in our training sessions and made a multi-purposeful learning environment for all parties involved.
Our players and coaching staff had an opportunity to present themselves at two of the local, international schools and very strong links have been formed with these institutions post tour.
I would be very happy to recommend Rugby Tour Spain to any university, school or club looking to tour on the Costa del Sol.
I will be using this service again with a club side next year, and I am really looking forward to doing so.
Kevin Moggridge Director of Rugby Oxford University Ladies RFC