Our memorable UK adventure

HARARE - Before the tour even started, the players knew it was going to be a tough task to come out with good results.

We had five games in 10 days against some of the best teams that the United Kingdom could offer but the guys were up for it.

We took off from Harare international Airport on August 24 eager to get to the UK.

We arrived all very tired and weary from the flight but all very excited to get started with training.

From the Gatwick Airport we hired a bus which took us to Hartpury College in Gloucester.

This is where we would stay for the next four days where we would be getting all the cob webs out in preparation for our first game against Oundle. We were treated superbly by Hartpury, which we are very grateful for.

On August 30 we travelled to Oundle where we were greeted by the players and coaches.

When we arrived we went straight into training because we were to face our first opponents the next day.
 
On the 31st we were as prepared as we could be and were all ready for the task at hand which was to make Peterhouse known in the UK.

It was pre-season for Oundle so they had only been together for the time we were in the UK with a whole new bunch of players.

The beginning of the game was slow but it was soon clear that we were the fitter team and started to pull away.

Towards the end of the game we changed our team so that everyone could get a run around.

This is where Oundle struck back and scored a few quick tries against us. We managed to hold them off by securing our first win on tour, 48-17.

The next day we travelled to Uppingham where we were greeted by staff members.

From then on it was going to be very difficult because we only had a day’s rest before we would play again.

Our coach, Scott Gray, tried to help the players recover as well as possible in a day and did an excellent job doing so.

On the morning of September 2 we were all still very tired from the game two days before but had to get our heads into the right place if we were going to do well against a side that had just been on a tour to South Africa.

Our assistant coach, Winston Holman, did a really good job of getting the boys’ minds on the job.

Uppingham came out firing and we soon found ourselves 21-0 and they took that lead into half time.

The team talk at half time was simply to stop giving away and play the way we know how to play.

From the start of the second half we were a different Peterhouse team. Brendon Mandivenga had an excellent game and earned the man-of-the-match award for his efforts.

We managed to tie up the scores with 10 minutes to go and were awarded a penalty within kicking range.

Mandivenga made no mistake and we had the lead for the first time in the game and managed to hold off the attack from Uppingham to secure our second win. We won 24-21.

Once again we were on the road again to Oakham were we were greeted by the members of staff.

The day after Uppingham was a day to relax and recover and so we did. That night we stayed with families and were treated excellently.

On the 4th — we geared up to play Oakham, who also just got off a pre-season training camp.

From the start of the game the boys were ready for whatever Oakham could throw at them.

Everyone in the team had a great game and the result showed it. We had secured a third win on tour, winning 27-8.

Like normal we were on the road to Sherborne which was in Dorset, about three hours away from our current location. On the way we stopped at Scott Gray’s old club, the Northamptonshire.

At the Saints we were privileged to watch some of the best rugby players in Europe in action.

There we managed to meet up with a Petrean (Peterhouse old boy), Brian Mujati. As you might remember, he played alongside the Beast (Tendai Mtawarira) for South Africa.

There we managed to see how he was doing and managed to get a few photos taken with him.

After our tour of the Saints, we carried on our way to Sherboune where we were again greeted.

By this time all the boys were extremely tired but were still hanging on. Our game against Sherboune did not turn out as we hoped.

We did not play the way we would mainly because we kept on giving possession to them. Sherboune was very physical and were excellent in the breakdown.

Fatigue got the best of us towards the end of the second half and could not pull off another win. We lost 31-15.

After our defeat, the boys were keen to make a statement in our last game against the toughest team we were going to play on tour.

We arrived at Bryanstone and again relaxed and recovered for that day. Our last game was on September 8.
 
The boys were keen to end the tour on a good note by playing the rugby we knew we could. For 10 of the players playing, it was going to be the last time that they would be playing for the “Kings”.

The first half was a very physical and an even battle between the two teams.

The half-time score was 6-7 to them. In the second half, Bryanstone came out firing and scored a few quick tries which put them way ahead.

The boys would not let our last game be an embarrassment and managed to score a couple of tries which Mandivenga managed to convert. In the end, we didn’t manage to pull off a win and lost 38-20.
 
Mandivenga got awarded another man-of-the-match performance as well as our hooker Ashley Thixton, who played out of his boots.

All in all we all had an enjoyable tour and it was a fantastic experience for all of us. I would just like to thank everyone who made it possible for us and in particular the management side of the tour.

lReece Comberbach was a member of the Peterhouse College rugby team that recently toured the United Kingdom. - Reece Comberbach

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