It’s tour weekend!! I’m sitting on a coach, exhausted, on my way back from another epic Syston Minis tour. I was one of 250 parents, players, and coaches who converged on sunny Bournemouth for three days of rugby fun and shenanigans!
This was an especially memorable trip for the U12s, as it’s the last Minis tour before we become Juniors next season. As you can imagine, it was very lively. But while I would love to divulge some of the madness that actually went on…what goes on tour, stays on tour.
But silliness there definitely was…if anyone had ever told me that on the blow of a whistle I would be doing the dying fly and flossing in public, I would have told them to dream on…but I certainly did…many times.
I had somehow avoided going on tour for our first few years at Syston. We were still getting used to rugby for a few years, so almost everything we experienced at the Club was new to us. And judging from the pitch-side rumours I decided that tour is definitely not for me. But things changed, and here I am piled into a coach with all of the U12’s singing Wonderwall in unison—again.
One in, all in
While I was never going to find this comfortable, I was persuaded to give touring a go by a much more seasoned rugby mum. Our lovely Heather is the person who knows and does everything for our team. She’s a Mother Hen to all the boys and the go-to for everyone else. Sensing my hesitation to experience a Minis tour for myself, Heather sold it to me from her own experiences with her eldest son. “It’s the musketeer principle…rugby encourages ‘one in, all in’” she said “Rugby friendships are life long, strong bonds – my son’s rugby friends are always there for him, and tour helps everyone come together as one.” As a rugby parent, we all want our child to be confident in their game and feel part of the club. So I bit the bullet and signed up, and have loved it ever since.
While playing games and training forms the team, touring together forms the family.
Hugely beneficial for the team members, tour is fundamental for their bonding. On and off the pitch, the boys spend quality time together, develop friendships and connect over shared triumphs and disappointment. Putting games consoles aside, they eat, sleep, travel, and play as a team, getting to know each other on a much deeper level.
Coach has the final say
Pleasantly for us, it’s a weekend where rugby mums don’t really need to worry. On my first tour I noticed that while we were responsible for our children, the coaches brought the players together as a unit. Sitting with his team mates, under the watchful eye of his coaches, he was touring – not as my little boy – but as a Syston team member. From quizzes, party tricks to the actual rugby games, on tour, coaches keep the team under their wing. They ensure the players are safe, respectful, wear their club shirts with pride, call the referees ‘Sir’, and shake hands with their opponents after the game.
Families enjoying sport
Uniquely, being together for three days of light-hearted fun and dressing up is an opportunity for rugby families to get to know each other better—not just the team, but across year groups. It’s a real family atmosphere for parents, coaches and players to socialise in a laid-back environment, building stronger relationships than they might have done on a Sunday morning at the Club.
Touring together, all wearing the same shirt makes you proud to be part of a rugby club and gives you a sense of belonging. Having now experienced three Minis tours I can truly say that even beyond the silliness, challenges and dressing up, it contributes to a feeling of being valued, welcome, and part of the wider rugby community.
A special thank you to Oakmedians Rugby Football Club and Andover RFC for hosting us this weekend!