Sunday, September 27, 2020

Wednesday June 21st


We wake in our hosts house.  We seem to have come home without incident and there is no blood/glass/curry etc on the walls or floor.  I have drawn the short straw - the sofa/bed in the family living room, while Jamie has a little extra privacy in an adjoining room.  The poor family are met with the sight of a slightly hungover morning Gwil and I do small talk whilst Jamie has a shower.  

We discuss the match and swop some souvenirs over breakfast.  We're pleased with ourselves, having  brought back a spare match flag for the host's son - he pops upstairs and gives us 3 or 4 flags, some signed by the Chiefs.  

Then it's back to Hamilton Marist to meet up with the others.  (To my shame I can't remember our host family's name - but it was a real pleasure to stay there and we had a great welcome.  Thank you for your generosity and having us for a night).

Eventually everyone turns up - no one lost/murdered/raped, and almost no embarrassing incidents (sorry no details).

Then it's off to catch the others in their hotel, a short spin out of town.  

It seems the boys had a good night in the hotel and a couple of surrounding pubs, but generally a quiteish night of pool and beers.  

This outfit wasn't a tour punishment - own choice!

Hats to breakfast of course!

Today is where the Warriors take things further than boldly go where no mixed ability team have gone before (and previous few other teams full stop).

One of the remits of the Warriors is to give the players the sort of rugby experiences that they would otherwise miss out on.  Simple things like going to the club to watch the Wales match with friends, training and playing at the same places that their brothers, Fathers, non disabled friends etc. had played at.  This though, was something where they would actually be able to get one up on their peers.  Only 14 international teams have played in Samoa.  England and Australia amongst those who have ever been.

Wales have toured twice previously and of course Samoa have famously beaten Wales in 2 World Cups - something of a "special relationship" then.  When Wales originally announced their tour plans, they were to travel to the 3 Pacific Island countries: Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.  There were insurance/medical issues with Fiji, the Tonga match was moved to New Zealand as it was much more financially beneficial to Tonga and it seemed that we were destined not to get to Samoa.  It just seemed too much.  However, with the Lions in New Zealand and prices sky high, we found it was actually cheaper to go to Samoa for a few days.  Personally I was absolutely chuffed to bits with this development and the whole party was pumped when it was confirmed.  Special as New Zealand is, Samoa was the exotic extra and a step into the unknown... is the day and off to the airport, no! - turn around!! Jamie has lost his phone in the hotel, no...just under the seat in the bus...

The airport is as interesting as any other time you're in an airport, some Samoan kids going back don't share our enthusiasm - it's too hot apparently, the thought of some proper summer heat after the (very pleasant) NZ autumn is just another plus point for us! 


 It's a 6 hour flight to Samoa, pretty standard though Gary has some issues with a bill he feels isn't value for money #tightgit 

We arrive (excited!!) the airport is chaos and we want the Welsh team kit (ruck shields, balls etc) going through in the mayhem.  There are guitar players strumming away like Hawaii and it is HOT, despite being late evening and dark. 

Outside the waiting taxis take the form of white minivans - 8 or so to a van.  We pile everyone in and head off into the Samoan night...   We get some idea of how small Samoa is just from the number plates - some are just 4 digits.  Can't see much as there is little lighting, but we seem to pass loads of huts with just a sarong for a curtain, isolated shops, not much traffic.

We arrive at our destination (John Horwood turns up separately in his own taxi, no worse for the experience). 

Nia Mall Apartments - pretty much the cheapest accommodation on the island.  The front entrance is closed and so we have to go around the back along, what is christened even by the time we have finished walking it as "Cockroach Alley".  As well as the wildlife there is washing, a discarded washing machine and a bloke snoozing who seems to be the security.  

The rooms, upstairs, are plain, but spacious with two double beds.  

Ben and Jamie are gracious enough to let me have a bed to myself.  It's the old tour SSS and out and it feels like the 1st night of the trip again.  Directions come through from the vanguard - left at McDonalds, then right, then on your right...

The 1st drink together in a bar in Samoa feels like an iconic moment - We've made it!


There is music, dancing, beer (with waitress service), home via McDs with some Australians and English film crew guys and back to the apartment....  quite a quiet day for this trip, so what are we doing tomorrow?

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