A chilly Tuesday morning for an early gym session, but the boys cracked on whilst management watched the local Thai boxing boys and girls sparring. Rugby training followed in the National Stadium with specific ‘work-ons’ picked out from last Sunday’s game. The afternoon saw the coaching team and some of the players travel to the outskirts of Antananarivo to coach the Madagascan men’s U16’s and U18’s and the women’s U20’s. Thanks to S & C Coach Sy Wiggall, boots donated by generous patrons back home were given to the Madagascan players and enthusiastic kids who turned up at the local stadium to watch the session.
Simultaneously, Le Furet and Ollie Adams made their debut on Madagascan national television, conducting an hour long interview with the President of the Madagascan rugby unions in fluent French, well Ollie at least!
In the evening some of the tour party were invited to attend a film gala at the French Institute of Madagascar. The main event was the screening of a film which followed the journey of a girl who had grown up on the coastal regions of Madagascar and went on to win a rugby tournament in the heart of the capital. Inspirational stuff proving how sport can change people’s lives and create opportunities for those who strive for change.
Wednesday morning was similar to Tuesday with another gym and rugby session, which saw a 17 degree temperature change between the early morning start and midday finish. After lunch there was a much anticipated 24 hour excursion one hour out of the city to spend the night at a wonderful lakeside resort in the scenic Madagascan hills. The infinity pool overlooking the lake was a popular location for the younger members of the squad prior to a leisurely supper followed by card schools, lively conversations and early nights for some. A lie-in on Thursday morning prepared the boys for the Traditional Backs vs Forwards Cricket match. Forwards Captain Charlie Pozniak won the toss and put the backs in, a decision he soon came to regret as the backs built an impressive score of 103 for 8, with high quality knocks from Captain Dom ‘the Duke’ Waldouck, George Tresidder and Henry Marrtin, against some highly questionable bowling actions – Vincent Tang and in particular! With an imposing target came immediate scoreboard pressure ad tight bowling from the backs saw the forwards crumble in the face of the task at hand. Wickets fell at regular intervals and the only resistance shown in the face of the onslaught was by the Yorkshireman Abi Oswal. In the end it was a comprehensive victory for the backs as the forwards ended up all out for 53 – 12 wickets down!!
Lunch followed before boarding the bus back to the city, the journey once again providing many interesting sights and experiences for the tour party as the bus crawled through the busy streets where locals tried to sell their wares, including shower hoses and homemade machete’s to the wide eyed tourists. The final 20 minutes of the journey saw the new tourists asked to sing a song to the bus, Sam Ridgway taking the plaudits as the best of a questionable number of renditions!
The day concluded with a team meeting to ensure everyone now switched back in to ‘preparation mode’ for Sunday’s 2nd Test followed by another great feed and bed.