Tours 2000-2009

The Scottish flagEDINBURUGH 2000

In 2000 the Blue Sox XV tour squad packed their bags and on this occasion headed for Edinburgh. Twenty-six tourists of all ages and size travelled and most arrived in one piece. A quiet evening was spent taking in the sites of the ancient city before returning for the pre match brief. On the Saturday our hosts were the historic club Edinburgh Academicals RFC. However, in true Blue Sox fashion the tour party began the day as a search party as a couple of senior tourists lost all sense of time and direction.

We did however manage to make it to the ground on time. Once again the tourists were complimented on their turnout on arrival (number one dress as usual).

The game was against an Edinburgh Accies select whose tour name was Edinburgh Apatheticals. The Accies started strongly but once the Sox got started they ran out very comfortable winners, notching up their first tour win on “foreign soil”.

The Apatheticals were excellent hosts and once the exchanging of ties and plaques and speeches was over, the pleasantries began. This of course meant the production of the tour mascot “The Boot”. After some initial hesitation the Accies soon got the hang of it and were more than pleasantly surprised with it’s cultured taste. Needless to say a great night was had by all.

On the way home the usual court was held and our thanks go to His Honour Judge Damian Tucker for the most lenient sentences ever. Not! Thanks also to the three wise men who kept order through out the tour and added to the kitty with their fines policy.

The tourists were; Paul Cairns, Brian Clinghan, Kris Eadie, Michael Ewbanks, Don Ferris, Stevie Gilmore, Sandy Heak, Austin Hewitson, Oliver Howe, Johnny Johns, Gareth Kelly, Wayne Kerrigan, Ally Lewis, Mark Lewis, Ian Liddle, Richy Longmore, Rob MacAuley, Johnny Maxwell, Barney McKevitt, Stevie Nicholl, Michael Oliver, James Porter, George Scott, Ian Scott, Michael Sneddon, Damian Tucker and Neil Williamson

Captain for the match was Paul Cairns.

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Lineout.

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Scottie takes a breather.

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Ali, Richy, Kris and Mark relax.

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A wet day in Edinburgh.

 

NETHERLANDS 2001The Dutch flag

The ‘Blue Sox’ XV tour squad headed for the Netherlands on their annual tour in November 2001. Thirty-six tourists of all ages and size made the journey. After the short plane journey the squad had a couple of hours to compose themselves before departing for Tilburg RFC for their first game.

Tilburg is only an hour away from Amsterdam but due to rush hour traffic the journey time doubled, the tour organiser being accused on more than one occasion of organising a ‘magical mystery tour.’

When the ‘Blue Sox’ arrived the match eventually got underway, only 30 minutes late. Tilburg put up a valiant effort but the ‘Sox’ were just too strong in all departments and ran out comfortable winners in a game that was played in true rugby spirit.

Tilburg were excellent hosts and the night in their club will not be forgotten for a while. Tilburg hope to visit Banbridge in the next couple of seasons and so we will be able to return that excellent hospitality.

Saturday morning, and the squad eagerly awaited the starting line up for the AAC Amsterdam game. Those who had not played on Friday night had had their appetites whetted by the fast free flowing brand of rugby on show.

AAC Amsterdam play their rugby at the Dutch National Stadium and the set up was very impressive. AAC had a couple of late cry offs so ‘Blue Sox’ players stepped in. Although a more mature side than that of the ‘Blue Sox’ Tom Cromie played in a front row containing Holland’s former hooker and prop.

Holland’s only ever Barbarian partnered Paul Cairns in the second row and Kris Eadie and Mark Lewis joined their International counterpart in the back row. Ian Scott and Gareth Kelly completed the compliment by joining the back line.

It was a great moment for the ‘Blue Sox’ players when both teams emerged from the tunnel onto the pitch cheered on by the crowd in the grandstand.

This match was a much tighter affair than Tilburg but the Banbridge team once again ran out winners.

Again everyone in the clubhouse had a very entertaining night afterwards.

Sunday was a day of sightseeing and reflection before the court was held on the stage of the Sports bar to the bemusement of a number of American football fans.

Monday morning and yet another tour was over as all 36 who were counted out safely made the plane for home.

The tourists were; Angus Bicker, Collie Broderick, Paul Cairns, Brian Clinghan, Thomas Cromie, Kris Eadie, Richard Eccles, Michael Ewbanks, Adam Ferris, Bill Ferris, Russell Ferris, Don Ferris, Stevie Gilmore, Austin Hewitson, Johnny Johns, Gareth Kelly, Wayne Kerrigan, Mark Lewis, Ian Liddle, Geoff Little, Johnny Maxwell, Barney McKevitt, Michael McQuitty, Albert Moffett, Leslie Mulholland, Dave Neilly, Stevie Oldham, James Porter, George Scott, Ian Scott, Michael Sneddon, Damian Tucker, Adam Waugh, Alec Waugh, Stuart Wickie and Richard Wilson.

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Blue Sox and Tilburg.

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Blue  Sox and AAC Amsterdam in the National Stadium.

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Tour party on Friday evening.

 

ISLE OF MAN 2002

September 2002 saw the ‘Blue Sox’ heading off to the Isle of Man. A forty strong contingent travelled and were due to take part in a triangular tournament with Ramsey RFC and Peel Vikings RFC. Unfortunately Peel Vikings withdrew at the last moment and so the ‘Blue Sox’ played Ramsey for the Euro construction Viking Challenge Trophy. In a close match in which the ‘Blue Sox’ received a rousing support from the travelling alikadoos led by chief choir master Merton McDowell the tourists lost 46 – 41. It seemed that the arduous boat journey and the searing heat had taken its toll.

Ramsey were tremendous hosts and hopefully they will return to Banbridge in the not too distant future. A special mention to Tommy Acheson, Raymond’s father for inviting two rugby teams to his beautiful home for a steak barbeque. He’s either mad or very brave but either way what a guy. A night to remember, especially for the ducks in his pond who had an unexpected visitor. Enough said!

The tourists were; Raymond Acheson, Angus Bicker, Collie Broderick, Paul Cairns, Hamish Cameron, Brian Clinghan, Mervyn Coleman, Michael Copeland, Stevie Cross, Kris Eadie, Mark Ferguson, Geoff Frazer, Stevie Gilmore, Austin Hewitson, Gareth Jelly, Johnny Johns, Gareth Kelly, Wayne Kerrigan, Mark Lewis, James Linden, Geoff Little, Roger Martin, Johnny Maxwell, James McComb, Merton McDowell, Barney McKevitt, John McKevitt, Michael McQuitty, Dave Neilly, Stevie Oldham, Michael Oliver, Paul Oliver, Alan Patterson, James Russell, George Scott, Ian Scott, Marcus Smyth, Michael Sneddon, Damian Tucker and Stuart Wickie.

Captain for the match was Stuart Wickie.

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Tour party on Friday morning.

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Blue Sox before kick off.

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Blue Sox and Ramsay RFC.

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Following a dip in the Irish Sea!

 

CECH REPUBLIC 2003The Czech Republic flag

The Seventh Blue Sox tour in 2003 was based in Prague. Needless to say another very enjoyable tour was had. Two hard games were played against Tatra Smichov (Friday), the reigning Czech Republic champions and Ricany (Saturday), the runners up to Tatra Smichov.

Tatra Smichov didn’t field any of their international players but Ricany did field three so you can guess the rest. You can also guess why Ricany charged people in to watch the match but since the Blue Sox were the first Irish club side to visit either of the two clubs one can imagine the local excitement.

Captain for the matches was Paul Cairns.

Can’t remember who the tour Court Judge was.

The tourists were; Raymond Acheson, Collie Broderick, Paul Cairns, David Chambers, Brian Clinghan, Richard Clinghan, Andy Cowan, Kris Eadie, Davy Edwards, Mark Ferguson, Mark Forsythe, Stuart Forsythe, Stevie Gilmore, Alan Harvey, Austin Hewitson, Johnny Johns, Gareth Kelly, Waybe Kerrigan, Mark Lewis, Ian Liddle, David Little, Geoff Little, Barney McKevitt, John McKevitt, Michael McQuitty, Derek Moorhead, Dave Neilly, Alan Patterson, George Scott, Michael Sneddon, Ian Stevenson, Noel Thompson, Damian Tucker, Francois Viljoen, Stuart Wickie and Richard Wilson.

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The President in pensive mood.

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Mike, Mark, The President, Austin, Tubbs and Cowboy.

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Ricany Club house.

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Johns Tiger boxers

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Kris samples the boot.

 

UXBRIDGE 2004The English flag

September 2004 and it was time to return and visit our old friends in Uxbridge. Thirty players and alikadoos travelled. The Blue Sox arrived in scorching conditions on Friday afternoon and scorching it would remain.

Uxbridge held a reception for Bann on Friday evening and their tactics were obvious; to get as many Blue Sox players to over indulge. They did not need to do much persuading. The match against Uxbridge 2nd XV was played in sweltering conditions and preceded Uxbridge 1st XV’s league game. The Blue Sox came out on top in their game and then watched Uxbridge 1st’s destroy their opposition cheered on by Bann who had been supplied with a trough of ice cold beer by their hosts following their game.

The now famous Blue Sox Court was held outside the Clubhouse in the blistering heat later that evening in the bar-b-que area with a large viewing audience. Uxbridge proved what gents they were when their whole team guided the Blue Sox around Uxbridge before being led into the hospitality suite of a local club. Number 1 dress was of course the order of the evening for everyone. Another excellent tour made even better by excellent hosts. Can’t name all the guys but special thanks to Danny, Wiggy, John ‘Baggy’ Hewitt and Keith and Darren Curle.

Judge for Tour Court was Daryll Gibson. Can’t remember who was the match captain.

The tourists were; Andy Armstrong, Collie Broderick, Paul Cairns, Brian Clinghan, Andy Cowan, Kris Eadie, Don Ferris, Mark Forsythe, Stuart Forsythe, Andy Fulton, Daryll Gibson, Stevie Gilmore, Leslie Graham, Brian Hanna, Alan Harvey, Austin Hewitson, Johnny Johns, Gareth Kelly, Mark Lewis, Geoff Little, Roger Martin, Barney McKevitt, John McKevitt, Michael McQuitty, Wayne Moran, Alan Patterson, Nial Rankin, Aaron Robb, George Scott, Ian Scott, Michael Sneddon and Noel Thompson.

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Blue Sox on Friday morning.

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Blue Sox and Uxbridge at Rifle Park.

 

ESTONIA 2005The Estonian flag

Banbridge Blue Sox travelled to the Estonian capital, Tallinn on Thursday. The party of 36 were met by the president of the Estonian RFU, John Stade. The first match on the tour agenda was against Tallinn Tigers on Friday. Set in the magnificent setting of the Hippodroom racing circuit, the match kicked off at 6.00pm in beautiful sunshine. The tourists started strongly and surged ahead with a number of tries. With roll on roll off subs the Blue Sox were able to use most of the available 26 players as the heat began to take its toll.

The local Tigers side roared their way back in the second half with a number of well-taken tries. It took a concerted effort from the Bann side in the closing minutes to put further scores on the board and finally secure the game.

Following the game a number of presentations were made. The Blue Sox also presented Mr Slade with a playing kit and a number of pairs of boots in an effort to assist in his determination to continue with the development of youth rugby in Estonia.

On Saturday the Blue Sox travelled south to Estonia’s second city, Tartu. The Banbridge side had entered three sides in the Tartu 7’s competition along with Tallinn, Tartu, Oscar Wildes and the Army.

A long days rugby ensued and even though the Bann B2 side had guest appearances by John Slade and Maynard Gilmore they narrowly failed to make the play off stages. The final of the Plate competition took place between Tallinn ‘A’ and Blue Sox B1. A slow start by the tourists allowed Tallinn to build up a healthy lead. Bann did claw back level in the second half but the exertion was too much and Tallinn won the match with two good late tries.

The showpiece final, for the cup was held between Blue Sox ‘A’ under the captaincy of Stuart Wickie and Oscar Wildes, a team made up of Estonians, Russians, Australians and Irish. By now the Blue Sox ‘A’ had a number of games under their belt and were firing on all cylinders. Wildes put up a gallant effort but had no reply to the pace and skill of the Bann side who ran out comfortable winners.

The presentations took place in the beautiful surroundings of the Oscar Wilde bar restaurant by the Mayor of Tartu. He in turn was presented with a Banbridge District Council plaque, a Banbridge Rugby Club plaque and a Banbridge RFC tie.

A special word of thanks must go to John Slade who put so much effort into hosting the Blue Sox and helping make the tour a total success.

The tourists were; Raymond Acheson, Andy Armstrong, Collie Broderick, Paul Cairns, David Chambers, Brian Clinghan, Andy Cowan, Mark Forsythe, Stuart Forsythe, Geoff Frazer, Andy Fulton, Maynard Gilmore, Stevie Gilmore, Leslie Graham, Alan Harvey, Gareth Kelly, Mark Lewis, Geoff Little, Roger Martin, James Mathers, Kevin McCartan, James McComb, Tony McCrea, Barney McKevitt, John McKevitt, Michael McQuitty, Derek Moorhead, Wayne Moran, Stevie Oldham, Alan Patterson, John Robinson, Michael Sneddon, Noel Thompson, Francois Viljoen, Stuart Wickie and Richard Wilson.

There were various captains selected during the various matches.

The Court was convened by His Honour David Chambers.

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Pretty in pink on Thursday.

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A selection of the boots the Blue Sox presented to the Tallinn RFC along with a set of playing shirts.

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Thursday morning.

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Friday morning.

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Blue Sox and Tallinn Tigers.

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Arriving at the ground.

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The walking wounded.

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Pre match routines.

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Friday match lineup

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Post match Friday.

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The terrible trio at Tartu.

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Tartu.

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Blue Sox B2 and opponents.

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The plate finalists

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Roger’s cut

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Estonia National 7’s Champions – Blue Sox A

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And after a hard days playing……………..

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Saturday morning.

 

BLACKPOOL 2006The English flag

We can report that the Blue Sox have all returned relatively unscathed from tour.

The Blue Sox squad headed to Blackpool for their annual tour on Friday past (1st Sept). Although based in the seaside mecca, the tour match was against Kirkby Lonsdale RFC on Saturday. Kirkby Lonsdale is a picturesque town in Cumbria about an hours drive north of Blackpool. Unfortunately the constant downpour put paid to any sightseeing.

The Blue Sox were playing a Kirkby select and it was the tourists who ran out winners on the day. Under 14’s coach Mark Fisher and Senior Vice President Brian Clinghan also donned their boots and shorts for a run out. At least Marks shorts were the proper colour, something Brian paid for shortly afterwards at the tour Court.

His Honour Judge Gilmore ran a very strict court as prosecuting QC McKevitt called the defendants to answer the various charges.

Another enjoyable tour but the biggest thanks must go to Kirkby Lonsdale Chairman, David Law who along with his club were excellent hosts. David led the entertainment from the front, enjoys a song and Kirkbys Funnel drink is now legendary alongside the boot in the annals of Blue Sox history.

Kikby have been invited to Banbridge and would be excellent visitors to host.

Apologies for the poor quality of some of the photos. Our official tour photographer had 17 stitches in his hand. We think the stitches, along with his medication affected his balance, judgement and ability.

The tourists were; The tourists were; Raymond Acheson, Collie Broderick, Jonathan Brown, Paul Cairns, Brian Clinghan, Richard Coburn, Kris Coleman, Andy Cowan, Kris Eadie, Don Ferris, Mark Fisher, Andy Fulton, Maynard Gilmore, Stevie Gilmore, Alan Harvey, Richard Jennings, Wayne Kerrigan, Mark Lewis, Geoff Little, Stuart Marshall, Roger Martin, Graham McCall, Barney McKevitt, John McKevitt, Gary McKibben, Derek Moorhead, Wayne Moran, Stevie Oldham, Alan Patterson, Ian Scott, Michael Sneddon, Noel Thompson, Francois Viljoen, Stuart Wickie and Richard Wilson

Captain for the match was Kris Coleman

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A mature group of tourists.

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Collie and Mark guard the boot.

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GERMANY 2007The German flag

The Blue Sox headed to Germany on their eleventh tour with Munich the final destination. There was no time to relax on Thursday as it was straight to the pre match reception in one of the beer tents at the World famous beer festival.

Friday saw the Over 35’s play in some atrocious conditions beating an Italian side on the way to the final. Unfortunately the weather did not subside and with a need to save the pitches for the big day on Saturday the final against an English side was cancelled.

Match captain was Michael McQuitty.

On Saturday the Blue Sox young guns were in the Munich National 7’s. Three wins over Harakiri (Japan), Baumholder (USA) and Lille (France) sides saw them comfortably top their group. Another win saw the Blue Sox into the last eight but in the Quarter finals the dream ended. The exertions of Thursday and Friday night took it’s toll and the Blue Sox were narrowly beaten by a Canadian / French team.

Sunday saw some sightseeing for some and a return to the beer festival for others, the ‘Pig Pen’ being the final destination before watching Ireland lose to Argentina and then His Honour Noel Thompson preside over Tour Court.

The tourists were; The tourists were; Raymond Acheson, Andy Baird, Anton Beens, Collie Broderick, Paul Cairns, Brian Clinghan, Andy Cowan, Kris Eadie, John Ferris, Stuart Ferris, Mark Fisher, Geoff Frazer, Andy Fulton, Stevie Gilmore, Alan Harvey, Richard Jennings, Gareth Kelly, Andy Kennedy, Mark Lewis, David Little, Geoff Little, Johnny Little, Stuart Marshall, Tony McCrea, Ashley McCulla, Roger Martin, Barney McKevitt, John McKevitt, Michael McQuitty, Derek Moorhead, Wayne Moran, Alan Patterson, Nial Rankin, Ian Scott, Noel Thompson, Francois Viljoen and Suart Wickie.

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Tour group on Friday.

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We never get rain like this in Australia.

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Moorhead takes lineout ball.

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Francois looks pleased with himself as he prepares to score.

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Noel prepares to clean up a scrappy ball.

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Fred prepares to collect.

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Mark outlining the virtues of Welsh rugby to Derek, Noel and Fred,

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Wickie, Barney and Brian.

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What a change in the weather for the 7’s competition on Saturday.  Appropriately dressed.

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Guess who?

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And the legend lives on.

 

DEVON 2008The English flag

Picturesque South Moulton in North Devon was the destination for 2008 and the 12th Blue Sox tour. The Friday arrival was the usual getting to know the local area and pre match preparation.

Saturday saw the Blue Sox play South Molton 2nd XV and following a good hard fought match the tourists came away with a win. South Molton were excellent hosts and it was a bonus that two Committee members owned licenced establishments in the town. Tour Court was held in the clubhouse and His Honour Andy Kennedy presided.

The tourists were; Collie Broderick, Paul Cairns, David Chambers, Andy Cowan, Stevie Cowan, Kris Eadie, Richard Eccles, Mark Fisher, Andy Fulton, Maynard Gilmore, Stevie Gilmore, Andy Kennedy, Mark Lewis, Geoff Little, Johnny Little, Stuart Marshall, Roger Martin, John McKevitt, Chris Nelmes, Stevie Oldham, Francois Viljoen, Stuart Wickie and Richard Wilson.

Captain for the match was Roger Martin.

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Dick does his pre match stretch routine.

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Team huddle

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Chris is a happy chappie

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Too much for the man of the match!

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Roger introduces the South Moulton captain to ‘The Boot.’

 

PORTUGAL 2009The Portuguese flag

A touring party of 36 left Banbridge on Friday morning heading for Albufeira. The numbers of players had dropped from 29 to 23 and this was deemed suitable for a game, that was until we found out that a round robin 3 team tournament had been arranged! The games would take place on Saturday, the kick off time put back until 4.30pm to give the Blue Sox players a chance to acclimatize.

So the destination on Saturday was Loule. A hard dry pitch was expected but the opposite was the case. Any rugby club would have been proud of the pitch and it certainly outdoes quite a few in Ulster! Green and well watered, only players and officials allowed near the playing surface and certainly no glasses or liquid other than water.

Banns first game was against the homeside Loule who had quite a voiciferous home support. This was a game that the Blue Sox could have wrapped up in the first half but a few handling errors saw try chances go begging. But in the end tries from Chris Nelmes and Derek Moorhead with two Viljoen conversions saw Banbridge who finished the game with 14 players following a yellow card win 14 – 0.

Unfortunately the draw did not favour Bann and 10 minutes later the Blue Sox were back in action against Rugby da Linha who play a league above Loule in the Portugeese 1st Division. This was a much tighter affair and both sides had opportunites to score but the defence from both sides was excellent. The Blue Sox made the breakthrough when scrumhalf McQuitty made space on the left wing to feed Andy Kennedy who barged over. Viljoen narrowly missed the conversion and the Blue Sox held on to take the game and the tournament 5 – 0.

The final game saw da Linha beat Loule for the second / third place play off.

Sunday was a day of sightseeing and sunbathing in anticipation of the tour Court. His Honour Noel Thompson once again presided. There are photos of the Court somewhere but to date they have not been produced.

The tourists were; Collie Broderick, Paul Cairns, David Chambers, Brian Clinghan, Andy Cowan, Stevie Cowan, Kris Eadie, Mark Ferguson, Don Ferris, Mark Fisher, Andy Fulton, Stevie Gilmore, Austin Hewitson, Stephen Jackson, Andy Kennedy, Ally Lewis, Mark Lewis, Geoff Little, Johnny Little, Stuart Marshall, Roger Martin, James McCrum, Barry McKevitt, Pete McQuaid, Michael McQuitty, Derek Moorhead, Wayne Moran, Chris Nelmes, Stevie Oldham, Michael Oliver, George Scott, Noel Thompson, Francois Viljoen, Mark Waugh, Stuart Wickie and Richard Wilson.

Captain for both matches was Wayne Moran.

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Departure morning.  Three missing from photo!  Good start!

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Match day.  Only two missing from this snap.  Getting better.

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Noel Thompson makes the tackle as his nephew Stephen looks on.

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Kennedy, Lewis and Marshall wrestle for the ball.

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Wilson and Cowan put pressure on the defence.

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Ali Lewis makes a break.

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Bann take lineout ball.

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Barry McKevitt heads for the line.

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Some of the home crowd.

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Francois scores.

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Fred makes a break.

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Should have been a score!

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McKevitt offloads to Moorhead.

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Match advertisement poster.

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Blue Sox and R C Loule.