PAC Rugby Tour Ignites Entire Club
PAC Rugby Tour Ignites Entire Club
Hugh Miller figured he’d maybe finally reached his goal when he couldn’t figure out who his players were.
Miller and his PAC Rugby HS club out of Colorado was on tour in England when he went into the clubhouse after a game, and found that every player with a PAC Rugby shirt he looked to usher onto the bus was actually from the Cheshunt RFC U18 team. They’d all swapped swag, and in so doing had crossed one of those boundaries of stranger hood that a good rugby tour is supposed to help you cross.
Using Irish Rugby tours, PAC toured England and Wales during the spring in a venture that made huge strides in bring the players closer, the parents more excited about the game, and also making the team as a whole better.
Two years ago they used IRT to tour Ireland. Miller had coached with Bill Baer at East HS in Colorado, and Baer always takes his team on some sort of trip. So Miller decided to emulate it, with an international approach.
“We’ve committed to going every other year, and this time we looked at England and Wales,” he said. “Irish Rugby Tours does such a great job getting the games put together, and the itinerary, the food, and other rugby activities. The first time we toured we had three games, and this time I told George Hook that probably two were enough. There was so much else to get out of it.”
A history teach by day, Miller was thrilled to show his players around some of the cultural touchstones of England. Much of that resonated with the parents who went on the trip.
“London was really good but they really responded to Bath,” he said. “It was more walkable, and very mellow, and from Colorado where something built in 1860 is old, to see Roman baths that are 2,000 years old is mind-blowing.”
The players also responded to being in a place where rugby is front-and-center. The TV news and newspaper carries rugby coverage. It made the players feel more a part of the global rugby culture.
Bath was central to all of that. The players were able to train with Bath Rugby coaches and they also trained with Harlequins rugby. Miller, a longtime Denver Harlequin, has always been a Harlequins supporter, so that was a special time, too.
“They just asked us: ‘what do you want to work on?’ And I said something like we were losing too much ball in contact, so they said ‘OK, we’ll show you some things,’” said Miller. “It was perfect for us.”
And then on to Cheshunt south of London. The game against the Cheshunt U18s was slated to kick off about an hour or so after England U18s played France U18s at the same ground. The fans rolled in for the international, and the PAC players got to hang out in the clubhouse and watch the game and be part of that atmosphere.
Then, as the international players filed out, the club officers said: “we’ve got all these spectators here. You could wait an hour to play, or you could play now and everyone can watch.”
It was a no-brainer for PAC. They, of course, pitched-up and played a hugely entertaining and competitive game in front of a roiling crowd.
That’s the sort of thing that can happen on tour with Irish Rugby Tours. The welcome was huge, and after the game the players socialized, traded shirts, and confused their coach, before finally going off to other adventures.
The 28 players who toured came back to help bolster a team that went on a bit of a tear into the Rugby Colorado playoffs. They incorporated some of the plays and ideas they learned on tour and were much better on the field as a result. PAC ended up losing a one-point playoff game to Titans Rugby, but when a scheduling issue meant they needed to fill in at the state 3rd-4th game, PAC ended up garnering some revenge.
“It was a perfect ending for us,” said Miller. “Because we were able to incorporate everything we’d learned.”
Maybe not everything.
Not until the players came back and thought that maybe also the tour had them thinking about something bigger than themselves or their team. After the season, the players put together a group to help repair the Rosalie Trail in Bailey, CO. This trail was in need of repair, especially in the repair of fences that line the trail. With the PAC Rugby guys on the job, what was expected to take six hours took less than three.
(See final picture at left)
“They were looking around for more stuff for us to do!” Said Miller. “It’s good for us to be able to give back, and all of that came out of the tour.”
Irish Rugby Tours will help you with setting up games at your competitive level, finding top-flight coaches to run sessions, set up cultural and rugby-related activities, and put it all together with unmatched service. You don’t even have to go to Ireland. As PAC Rugby showed, you can go to England and Wales, or you can go to other destinations. They have contacts everywhere. Just let them know.