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South Africa tour Junior Rugby

Oakham Athletes Complete South Africa Tour

13th September 2023

Athletes from Oakham School this summer embarked on the School’s largest ever sports tour, travelling to South Africa.

With global travel opportunities being severely limited in recent years due to the pandemic, a tour of this scale had not been undertaken since 2017.

Fortunately, this summer, the South Africa tour bounced back bigger than ever before with five touring groups: Senior Rugby, Junior Rugby, Boys’ Hockey, Girls’ Hockey and Netball.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our boys and girls to be able to go and see what South Africa has to offer.

It took nearly 20 months of planning, preparation and fundraising leading up to this highly anticipated trip.

The purpose of the tour was not just to offer pupils unforgettable memories and the opportunity to develop their sport, but also to expose them to different cultures, and to allow them to experience how children live in different parts of the world.

As well as taking part in fixtures against schools the length and breadth of the country, the tour groups were able to take in South African culture, history and wildlife through a series of trips and visits. They also visited the LIV Village charity, carrying out voluntary work.

The tour was carefully planned to ensure it embodied the four Oakham School values of Care, Courage, Contribution and Connection.














Five touring squads, representing three sports and comprising 144 pupils took part in the tour. The hosting teams provided fantastic opposition, resulting in 47 hotly-contested fixtures.

As well as facing tough, well-matched opponents, Oakham’s teams faced the challenge of adjusting to Southern Hemisphere winter conditions and an unfamiliar environment.

Each Oakham School squad performed admirably, chalking-up an impressive record of victories along the way.


School Visits

Oakham School’s touring groups visited a total of over 25 different schools between them in different provinces of South Africa.

Although the practice is becoming less common, the Junior Rugby boys were able to experience billeting with host families at Waterkloof School, who offered very warm welcomes and an unforgettable cultural experience.

Another highlight was the incredible atmosphere experienced at St Anne’s College during the netball fixture. Oakham’s Girls’ Hockey squad was present to support the touring teams, but this was dwarfed by the awe-inspiring support of the home team. A blackout occurred during this visit, prompting all supporters to come together and create flashlight waves with their phones, contributing to the spectacular atmosphere.

We are eternally grateful to all of the schools that hosted us and treated us so well pre and post-match. Lots of braais and fun were had at each school we visited.

Netball World Cup

Oakham School’s Netball and Girls’ Hockey squads were lucky enough to attend the Women’s Netball World Cup.

The girls attended the Opening Ceremony and two games: the tournament opener between South Africa and Wales and England’s game against Barbados.

Katie Long, Assistant Head of Academic and Curriculum PE, who led the Girls’ Hockey tour, described it as “a majestic night at the Netball”.

“We were all in admiration of the home support given to the South African team and the energy the crowd gave.

“The girls did England proud, chanting, singing and cheering England all the way through their opening game, also getting themselves lots of airtime on the big screens!”


South African History

All five tour groups visited Nelson Mandela’s capture site, a key location in South Africa’s history. On August 5 1962, after 17 months of evading capture, Nelson Mandela was caught on a nondescript road. Today, a visitors’ centre and a shape-shifting sculpture mark the site of Mandela’s arrest, telling his story with a focus on the time around his arrest and the following 27 years in jail. Each Oakham School tour group was able to visit the iconic location and see the eye-catching sculpture Release, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of Mandela’s arrest.

Pupils also visited Robben Island, infamous for being the isolated prison of Nelson Mandela for 18 of his 27 years in jail, as well as that of many other black political dissidents.


South African Wildlife

Each of the five touring squads had the incredible experience of a safari trip over a total of four different locations. Venturing into the vast South African countryside in Land Cruisers allowed the athletes to come face-to-face with some of the world’s most impressive creatures.

Cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, lions and – of course – springboks were just some of the fascinating animals that the squads were lucky enough to encounter roaming in their natural habitats.


LIV Village Visit

Four of the touring squads visited LIV Village orphanage, a charity with which Oakham School has a long-standing connection.

Fundraising for the charity prior to the tour was a huge success, resulting in a £10,000 donation. Furthermore, Oakham School donated 150 warm waterproof coats for the children.


Final Words from Director of Sport, Dr Iain Simpson

“Personally, I am hugely grateful to the 26 staff who did such a professional job in terms of looking after the children, having very high standards in terms of the coaching and the sporting input we had upon them, but also at the same time allowing them to have a fantastic experience in a new country with so many exciting things to offer.”


Results Overview

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