Bulls Kicking Goals Across the Ditch

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The Singleton Bulls Under-18s Rugby Union side has had a trip to New Zealand they will never forget.

Traditionally, the Under-16s Bulls team goes on tour every year but due to COVID last year’s tour was postponed until this year. The idea behind the team tour is to give players a sporting travel opportunity that, for many, will be a once in a lifetime experience.

Marcus Vaughan is the father of one of the Under-18 players and has been the biggest supporter of the young players going on tours.

“We had an U16s team tour New Zealand when I was co-coaching one of my other sons’ teams in a younger age group, so after the feedback we got from that team, myself and Steve Merrick who was also coaching thought hey, why don’t we go on tour to New Zealand as well?

“So we decided that on the back of that first successful tour, we’d take our team over in 2016 and I loved the tour so much that I put together a 2017 tour for the Hunter Junior Rugby Union Representative U17s and started helping other teams and clubs do the same so when it came around for my youngest son Nathan and his team’s chance to go on tour, I said it’s New Zealand that’s it, you don’t have a choice!”

So, Marcus and the Under-18 boys as well as a few of their parents and Team Manager Anna O’Brien, all got on a plane to New Zealand for eight days during the Easter school holidays.

The team was exposed to the New Zealand Rugby culture straight away, playing games against Christchurch Boys High and the Leeston Rugby Football Club.

“They had Crusaders players and the All Blacks players rock up at their hostel one morning and have breakfast with them. They went to the Crusader’s headquarters and checked it out, they had coaches from the Crusaders and other elite-level rugby coaches that are in Christchurch run them through training sessions and then they did all the fun stuff like jet boating, hot springs, paintballing, go-karting, and it was just full-on,” Marcus said.

Three of the boys who went over have been playing Rugby together since they were kids. Hamish O’Brien, Hugh Partridge and Nathan Vaughan started playing in the Under-8 squad progressing right through to the Under-18s. All three would love to pursue rugby professionally and agree that the tour only made them more determined.

“It was a good experience, we’ve never played something like that before,” Hamish said.

“My favourite part of the tour was winning our second game against a country town called Leeston, the atmosphere was so good and it was a new experience that none of us had had before and it was really good for us to get around and have a bit of fun.”

Hugh and Nathan agreed that the trip was great for the culture of the team and they’ll cherish the memories they made forever.

“It’s taught us heaps as well,” Hugh said. “The New Zealand players are fast, so fast and well coached.”

“Just being around the boys for a week, and just having fun and getting to know each other – good bonding time,” Nathan added.

Footy mum Anna went over with the team as their Manager and said they all shared an invaluable experience.

“From a development side for the boys, having that experience with those coaches, international coaches at that level of rugby and the exposure and the whole culture of the Crusaders was wonderful, and seeing how they develop their players as a person was really powerful.

“It was a huge experience for them, a life experience and a learning experience and nobody got lost!”

The Singleton Bulls 2023 Under-16s are touring Fiji and the 2024 U16s Bulls will be the next side to tour New Zealand, and Marcus cannot wait.

“My main drive behind why I love getting youth teams on tour is to give as many kids as possible the opportunity to experience something that many adults may not have or wish they did have – that’s the end game. I’ve got this grand plan of getting all of Singleton involved and getting as many kids as possible on a tour with their respective sports be it cricket, netball, rugby league, rugby union, soccer, you name it!

“My 23-year-old son, and players from his team, still talk about their tour and these boys will too.”

To get in touch with Marcus for more details on New Zealand sporting tours email him at: marcus@totaltours.nz

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