It was just a few months ago that the Yorkshire Terriers RUFC were heading ‘down under’ for their Australia and Hong Kong 2015 rugby tour, trading in Yorkshire mud for Aussie sun.
From the rigorous work on the field to catching some serious waves at Surfers Paradise, the Terriers returned with five out of five victorious match wins, new friendships and enough ‘rugby bants’ to last until the next tour.
We caught up with Tour Courier and Nuneaton RFC player, Todd Bullions, for the inside scoop on what it’s really like to courier an entire rugby team. G’day Todd!
1. Let’s kick things off. What was it like to lead such a high profile group?
Going into the tour I thought I had an understanding of the Terriers and what they were about. However, this was only just scratching the surface. Every member of the touring squad was deeply passionate about the tour, both on and off the field, and they’d all put a lot of effort into getting ready for their tour to Australia and Hong Kong. This made being responsible for the group whilst on tour an absolute pleasure.
I wanted to ensure my efforts matched their passion for the tour so that I can deliver an experience that will stay with them for many years to come. The whole ethos of the group and the tour meant that my role as tour leader was a privileged position, and to be able to spend two and a half weeks travelling around Australia and Hong Kong, soaking up the sites and enjoying the local culture, was something special!
2. As a rugby player yourself, how was it for you to take more of a step back? There must have been times when you felt tempted to jump in the match?
Well I did pack my boots! But no, the Terriers are a special group and it takes a lot of hard work to earn a place on the tour, and even more to be selected to wear the shirt out onto the field. Whilst I may have been tempted, I’d have felt I was doing a dis-service to the team to just tag along. Don’t get me wrong, I was tempted, but I thought I’d be best spent spectating. Plus, this gave me an opportunity to sample the local beverages (mainly Queensland XXXX and Toohies).
One thing I did take away from the tour was the passion these guys had for the game. That’s not just the playing squad, but every member of the tour had a deep passion for the game, and I guess that revived a passion for rugby within me and is something I’m trying to take into my approach to rugby this season. The game never leaves you I guess!
3. Describe your favourite moments of the tour both on and off the field.
On the field for me has to be the second fixture of the tour against the West Coast Bulldogs. A glorious day with the sun beaming down on a rugby pitch, surrounded by beautiful views in the suburbs of Brisbane. The game was played in great spirits and the Terriers came away victorious. Of course the typical Australian heat really tested the guys. However, they put a great shift in and we celebrated on the bus trip home.
Off the field would have to be one of the last nights of tour. We seemed to stumble upon a rock ‘n’ roll bar in downtown Hong Kong. Playing your favourite rock songs from Bon Jovi to Nickelback, the guys loved it. So much so that we started our very own Terriers mosh pit, complete with maracas, a triangle and tambourine – all provided to us by the band. The locals may have thought we were crazy, but they loved it! Definitely a night to end the tour in style!
4. Taking care of 32 lads half way across the world – it must have been a responsibility. Would you do it again? Any advice for other tour couriers?
I was quite fortunate that the guys were very independent, which naturally makes things a lot easier. Having a base in Surfers Paradise for the first 10 days of the tour really helped by allowing the group to acclimatise to the local surroundings and providing us with a base to start the tour on the right foot. There were some great characters on tour as well which just makes life easier when you want to let your hair down a bit.
There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes on tour to make sure things keep ticking over nicely. I’d say that’s the main nugget of advice I’d give to other couriers. Just constantly ensuring you’re working on the finer details of the tour to make sure there are no hiccups along the way, and if they do happen, just react to the situation and try to reach the best possible resolution.
As for doing it again… I heard there is a pretty big tour happening in New Zealand in a few years so you never know what might happen…
5. Finally, of course we’re all glued to our screens at the moment with the Rugby World Cup 2015. Who do you think is looking good to win?
Being a loyal Englishman, I still think England have a chance of proving the doubters wrong. Their form coming into the World Cup was just too good for them not to reach the Semi Finals. They’ve made it a hard task, but I’m confident they can go against the odds and make the nation proud.
As for other teams, France have really impressed me and their strength in depth makes them a healthy bet to reach the final. Then it’s a toss-up between Australia and New Zealand for me. Australia have had a good tournament so far, but you can never write-off the All Blacks, particularly when they’ve got the likes of McCaw, Read and Carter firing off all cylinders.
If England don’t make it, then I’d expect Australia or France win. I always like betting against the odds, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Even if we don’t perform well, I think the tournament itself has already been a great success in bringing rugby to the forefront of the nation, and hopefully the legacy of RWC 2015 will be the real winner.
Want to see everything the Terriers got up to? Check out our blog!