Friday the 8th June saw the Hilljills Ladies set of on their inaugural playing tournament of the season. The touring side had grown in the week leading up to the tournament and contained Fi-Fi, Hazel, Vik, Katie, Kerry, Susie, Rachy, Heather, Julia and Kathleen (Kate). When phoning to confirm details of the trip Captain Susie (for the very last time!) had the tournament described as ??? bit of a free for all??? by the host and organiser. Unsure just what exactly to expect the ladies set of on Friday night bound for Tarbet after being issued with official kit for the tour in the shape of some gorgeous and eye catching t-shirt??™s generously sponsored by Aller??™s Kennels. The proposed leaving time was wildly underestimated after it was discovered that we still had to negotiate the isles of Ibrox Asda (a bit too close to Castle Grey Skull for this writers liking!). After much discussion the conclusion was to purchase much as much booze as we could carry and a couple of bags of crisps!
Friday saw us navigate up the west coast to Tarbet and our bed for the night.
Saturday started with a very early wake up call from Tour Organiser Fiona before heading for the 7am ferry. Saturday saw Heather celebrating her 21st birthday. The crossing passed relatively quickly due to the fact that most players were passed out and strewn across any flat surface they could find. Julia and Kate (self appointed tour mangers/coaches ??“ aka ???the little sisters???) rallied us all round and their first (of many) motivational speeches.
On debarking the ladies set off in search of the campsite and a place to set up little Hughenden for the weekend. The ladies started pitching but were soon inundated with offers of help. The boys team were found trying to alleviate their hangovers after some serious Friday night partying with a spot of beach cricket.
It soon became apparent just how hot it was going to be but tour rules are tour rules and all players and management had to adhere to the strict policy of t-shirts being worn at all times. Vik struggled to come to terms with this (do Oxford know what they??™re getting?!!) and so spent a lot of the morning being duly punished by the self appointed (in the absence of Gail) Tour Punisher, Katie.
When the play began it soon became apparent how beach rugby is played. Most teams brought their front 5 plus a couple of sub props. You could see the faces of the players drop when the realised that a bit of a jolly had turned into some serious tackle practice! None the less the women threw themselves into the first match against local rivals GHA. The game started off scrappily but after initial nerves subsided some slick play led to a couple of quick scores for the westenders. The vocal support from the sidelines spurred the women on and they ran out comfortable 5-0 winners.
Next up for the girls came the unknown quantity of Oban Lorne WRFC, recent high flyers in the National Development League, the Hilljills were unsure of exactly what to expect. After what can only be described as an ???inspiration??? team talk from Manager Kate the ladies took the field and managed to put in a polished performance to beat the team by the same margin as the previous match. A rogue swinging elbow split Hazel??™s head open but the tough cookie went off, got a couple of stitches then instantly declared herself fit for the final.
After a quick chat with the organisers it soon became apparent that the final would not be for a while so the ladies settled in for a long afternoon of sunbathing and supporting the boys.
The awesome effort put in by the boys (special mention has to go to Murray ???big hit??™ Bell who threw himself into the fold after Stuggie suffered a nasty bad leg) meant they qualified from their group but had to withdraw due to injuries (bad hangovers?!!).
The legends team also qualified from their group and managed to progress to the semi-finals where they met the eventual winners Melrose whose unsavoury travelling support left a bad taste in everyone??™s mouth.
The girls final opponents turned out to be GHA who had put Oban Lorne away after their group match had to be replayed. The women took the pitch with ???let??™s do it for the whiskey??? echoing in their ears and put in a professional performance to see off the Southsiders 8-1. Loud support from the sidelines undoubtedly spurred the girls on and new coach Kitch seemed pleased with his teams??™ effort.
From this point in the night turned into what can only be described as a classic. Tour guidelines dictated that all players and management must be in school uniform with degrees of effort varying wildly. At one end of the spectrum was Heather who ???acquired??™ a tie from one of the Islay boys. At the other end was Rachael who had managed to dig out her size 6 school dress from when she was a young, wide-eyed 15 year old. Little Sister Kate took on the role as school mistress but rather than keeping us in line she led everyone astray??¦??¦??¦??¦
Gold medal had to go to Kerry who kept everyone entertained early on with her ability to down anything that came within 3 feet of her. Although the top of the podium was pretty busy by the end of the night with the party moving on to the local disco.
After dancing in the hottest building ever people decided the best way to cool off would be to have a 3am dip in the sea. Naturally, shoulder wrestling followed and champions were little sister Julia and her partner who managed to knock Vik and her very tall ???friend??™ for the night tumbling face first into the sea.
As for any further details we all know that what goes on tour stays on tour but one thing is for sure it was a fitting farewell to our departing centre??™s Davies and Vik who are off to pastures new next season. Both will be sorely missed.
Same time next year ladies?