I spend mornings chatting to props, flankers and second rows. Towering figures with firm handshakes and broad smiles. Students from Newman’s senior classes, who enthuse about the virtues of rugby, talk tactics and teamwork and catalogue their training and injuries. They are proud, Club Newman teams are in five semi-finals this year including the first team in the URBA TOP 14. Rugby is not my sport but I can’t help but be affected by the passion and enthusiasm of these young men.
Every day, I am timetabled to prepare pairs of pupils for the IELTS exams, except recently classrooms are emptying. All eighty seven final years have gone on rugby tour to Ireland and the UK and are encamped in a London Hotel, waiting to roar on Argentina against the All Blacks. They won`t be alone, the student population is diminishing daily with world cup fever sweeping through the school. A sporting exodus is underway with about a quarter of senior cycle boys already enroute to Britain.
It`s a wonderful privilege to sit down and talk to these students. Bubbly characters, with long hair and charisma. They talk freely about their lives and interests. About their large families. Their fathers who played rugby at Newman and kept in touch with the school and class mates. They talk about barbecues on their farms. About parties, polo and friendship, so important to Argentinians. But mostly they talk about rugby. I met one boy who told me that he was jetting off the following day with his entire extended family. I was surprised because till then students had told me that the world cup trip was very much a male thing. Fathers and sons together, sometimes three generations of men travelling. When I enquired about the travelling females, he modestly told me that his whole family was excited and anxious because his brother would be playing for the Pumas. Ok, I admit it, I’m hooked and can’t wait for the matches, especially one potential quarter final: Pumas V Ireland!
Check out Newman students` rugby tour blog here: