Banbridge RFC has always had a long and enviable touring tradition having visited many UK, Irish and European venues over the years.
With the advent of All Ireland League rugby at Rifle Park, Bann’s social tours and regular trips to Gort and Peebles faded and it seemed that the good old days of touring might be lost forever.
Luckily some club members had other ideas.
Lyle Cairns got things going again when he ran a ‘one off’ tour to Oldham in 1997 for a match against Duckinfield 2nd XV. You can read about the tour on the Oldham tour page. Unfortunately there are no pictures for this tour as we cannot find the camera they were taken on! The search continues and maybe it will turn up some day.
This tour re-ignited the touring bug and a full club tour was organised to South Africa in 1998 followed by Canada in 2000. South Africa was again toured in 2012.
The social touring has continued every year since 1997 and goes under the name of the Blue Sox XV. More than 150 players from all five club teams and alickadoos have travelled all over the UK and Europe.
All Blue Sox tours are open to all BRFC club members over the age of 18. Players of all abilities as well as non-playing members and sponsors are encouraged to come along to get together and experience the joys of touring.
What do you get when you tour?
You will share exploits and experiences with your fellow tourists that you will talk about for the rest of your playing days and beyond; stories that, like a good wine, will get better with age. ‘The older we get the better we were!’
‘You had to be there’ never covered an event so accurately.
And of course if you survive ten Blue Sox tours you will be awarded the much coveted TTT, the Ten Tour Tie. But it doesn’t stop there, when you reach the twenty tour mark you will get the even more rare special edition TTT, the Twenty Tour Tie.
The 22 members who have been awarded the Ten Tour Tie up to and including the 2018 tour are;
Paul Cairns #2 (23 tours), Barney McKevitt #31 (20 tours)
Kris Eadie #24 (17 tours), Roger Martin #72 (17 tours), Stevie Gilmore #10 (16 tours)
Brian Clinghan #3 (15 tours), Mark Lewis #39 (15 tours), Stuart Wickie #64 (14 tours), Stuart Marshall #109 (14 tours)
Austin Hewitson OBE #11 (13 tours), George Scott #17 (13 tours), Chris Nelmes #120 (12 tours)
Michael McQuitty #59 (11 tours), Andy Cowan #82 (11 tours), Francois Viljoen #90 (11 tours), Andy Fulton #92 (11 tours), Mark Fisher #107 (11 tours)
Michael Sneddon #18 (10 tours), Collie Broderick #52 (10 tours), Geoff Little #58 (10 tours), Steven Oldham #62 (10 tours), Richard Wilson #65 (10 tours)
1997 – Oldham (Duckinfield RUFC 2nd XV)
1998 – Newcastle (Morpeth RFC ‘Edwardians’)
1998 – South Africa
1999 – Cardiff (Treherbert RFC 2nd XV)
2000 – Edinburgh (Edinburgh Academicals RFC ‘Apatheticals’)
2000 – Canada
2001 – Netherlands (Tilburg RFC and AAC Amsterdam RFC)
2002 – Isle of Man (Ramsey RFC)
2003 – Czech Republic (Tatra Smichov RFC and Ricany RFC)
2004 – Uxbridge (Uxbridge RFC 2nd XV)
2005 – Estonia (Tallinn Tigers RFC and Estonia National 7’s winners)
2006 – Blackpool (Kirkby Lonsdale RFC Presidents Select)
2007 – Germany (Munich RFC and Munich 7’s Q/Finalists)
2008 – Devon (South Molton RFC 2nd XV)
2009 – Portugal (RC Loule and Rugby da Linha)
2010 – Irvine (Irvine RFC select)
2011 – Italy (RC Forli and RC Cesena)
2012 – South Africa (False Bay RFC, Pneil/Kylemore RFC and Kraaifontein RFC)
2012 – Leeds (West Park Leeds ‘Warriors’ RUFC)
2013 – Cardiff (Ynysybwl RFC 2nds)
2014 – Aylesbury (Aylesbury RFC 2nds)
2015 – Bristol (North Bristol RFC 2nds)
2016 – Newcastle (Gosforth RFC Select)
2017 – Galway (Galwegians RFC 3rds)
2018 – Carlisle (Carlisle RFC Presidents Select)
2019 – Spain
2020 – Edinburgh (Murrayfield Wanderers 2nds)
You can read a report on each tour and see some photos on the respective tour page. All except Oldham that is!
Captain Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier, RN (1796 – 1848)
A true tourist
Secundus ut nullus