This year's New Zealand Rugby Tour was the first international TGS sporting trip since COVID-19 and a decade since the School has sent a squad 'across the Ditch'.

The teams were undefeated and it was a trip the players will never forget. This tour was years in the making and heralds a new era of touring and hosting different rugby schools to give our players opportunities for growth as athletes and as people.

Head of Sport - Rugby, Mr Lincoln Clapham, explained they selected 46 students to take part in the ten-day tour and began training last year.

From Term 1 onwards, the squad trained twice weekly on the oval plus two and sometimes three gym sessions per week. The squad played in two teams, one named TGS Blue and the other TGS Gold.

"It gave us a massive head start in terms of our GPS season preparations to have four games against schools we haven't played before. It allowed us to develop our game model, our gameplay and develop connections across the park. It allowed us the opportunity whilst in New Zealand to get together as a group away from the field as well, whether they were in Years 10, 11 or 12.

“To bring us together and do different activities, along with the coaching staff has created a well-connected group.”
— Mr Lincoln Clapham, Head of Sport - Rugby

Being able to tour another country as part of a sporting team is a feat not many of us can boast, even less have had the opportunity as secondary school students but the lasting legacy is yet to be realised.

Mr Clapham, who formerly worked with the Queensland Reds and Wallabies Rugby Teams, says it gave every participant a rare insight, "It gave the boys a chance to experience what it would be like to be a professional player.

We explained that a lot of them may not have this opportunity to go away with a group and play in a different country ever again.

We wanted them to enjoy that time and learn from it, that was a really important aspect."

Mr Clapham explained that whilst the benefits of pre-season training and becoming match-fit are easy to assess, it's hard to measure just how beneficial the camaraderie they fostered will prove.

Captain Joseph Gray said the tour has built trust between players

Joseph Gray, First XV Captain, gave an account of the stunning results achieved by this touring side, who ended the trip undefeated:

"After nine weeks of hard training, the tour kicked off with our first fixture against St Andrews College. It being our first game of the season, the boys dusted off the cobwebs and were keen to get stuck in. Both TGS teams that played managed to walk away with our first win on New Zealand soil.

After a few days rest and the win under our belt the boys were keen to go again against Christ’s College. The first game of the day saw TGS Gold put on a dominate display of skill right from the first whistle managing to come away with the second win of the tour. However, TGS Blue had a different story, after a slow start the blue team found themselves 22-0 down heading into to the halftime break.

After a chance to regroup, the boys came back raring to go. A relentless display of attack and defence saw TGS Blue level the score with only a minute left on the clock, ending the game at 22-22.

The squad then spent time traversing the beautiful New Zealand countryside, finally reaching our destination at Marlborough. Upon arrival at Marlborough Boys College, TGS was given a traditional Māori welcome lead by their Headmaster including a Haka and the singing of a traditional Māori hymn.

With their whole school out to watch, our squad was soaking up the atmosphere. Then came the Haka and it was definitely a major highlight in the tour, as the entire Marlborough Boys College performed behind their First XV. It was truly incredible. The day finished with a large traditional Māori post-match feed, with both TGS teams keeping their undefeated streak going as we headed towards our final match against St Patrick's College.

With our last chance to test our skill before heading towards the coming GPS season the boys were ready. The cold and windy conditions made for a scrappy and physical game. However, the boys held strong with both teams able to finish the tour undefeated.

After each game the schools were presented with a Toowoomba Grammar School Boomerang with Indigenous artwork, it told how we as a school come from far distances to be here and how our School is a place where we come together as the Blue and Gold."

“The tour allowed the players to build strong relationships, learning new things about each other every day. It allowed us to become closer as a squad, building trust in one another which we will need in the fast-approaching 2024 season.”
— Joseph Gray, First XV Captain

Squad member Luke Burrow, a boarder from Toobeah, counts himself lucky to have been able to participate:

"The pre-season started midway through Term 4 in 2023 and the boys knew that they were not only competing for a blue and gold jersey, but also training towards the NZ tour in the following year.

We worked hard and enhanced our knowledge of the game over the summer period and before we knew it, we were on the plane headed over the Ditch. 46 boys and six staff attended the 10-day tour of the country. Over this period, we played eight games as two squads and took part in many activities off the field.

These included team bonding activities such as high ropes, a water rafting adventure through the Nile River Cave System and an opportunity to meet and mingle over breakfast with some of the current All Blacks players. These activities helped bring the team together, whether it be small groups on the top of the high ropes course as the trees sway and screams escaped fearful participants, but no one as loud as Mr Seddon!

Another vital experience was the three-hour cave tour which began with walking through the caves carrying a tyre tube. This would soon be used to float through the freezing cold water. We shared the pitch-black caves with thousands of glow worms and an eerie silence as we floated down stream. It was these experiences that were used to unite the squad, which also includes relationships with the staff. It those bonds formed in NZ that will help us as we all go through the ups and downs of rugby through the year with the team."

“The tour will most definitely benefit and increase the quality of rugby played by all boys who participated, and the opportunity will be remembered forever.”
— Luke Burrow, squad member

Mr Lincoln Clapham says the success of the tour has given the School strong impetus to continue tours like this and host international teams with more regularity.

"I'd envisage having a tour every two years and whilst New Zealand is a great destination we'd like to widen the scope to countries like Fiji and Japan."

“It's clear the benefits of the tour are far beyond just rugby skills and winning matches, for us it has highlighted the importance of camaraderie, cultural immersion, and personal growth and makes a compelling case for to plan more tours like this one.”
— Mr Lincoln Clapham, Head of Sport - Rugby

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