THE high achieving young members of Kilkenny rugby club enjoyed a hugely successful five day tour of Italy recently. In all a party of 64, including four coaches and parents, made the trip and the youngsters powered their way to some terrific wins.
Fiumicello rugby club was the first team up for the Kilkenny lads. The Italians, a big, physically strong team, started very well and threatened to over-run the visitors. However, Kilkenny dug in and gained a foothold in the game. In the end their superior skill and clever use of possession saw them run run out impressive 87-7 winners.
This game was attended by an Italian Regional President, who was very impressed by the skill shown by the Kilkenny players. He was also doing some homework, because a team he was involved with were the next opponents for the Kilkenny lads.
In the second match the opposition was proved by a Regional Development team at a tournament at Calvisano rugby club. Calvusano is a semi-professional club which has competed in the Heineken Cup.
Again the Italians fielded a physically powerful side. This was a very close game in the end. Both teams let the creative juices flow and produced a magnificent display of rugby in front of a large crowd.
It ended all square, 14 points each, which was a fair result.
All the clubs Kilkenny visited during the tour greeted them warmly, and were impeccable hosts. The enthusiasm for the game was top class, and the Italians are putting a huge effort into the promotion of the game.
The focus of the trip was very much on rugby; on learning new skills and enjoying the Italian culture. After a fantastic weekend of rugby, the boys were brought to Gardaland Adventure Park and also to the San Siro soccer stadium as a treat for all the hard work they had put in during the tour.
The Kilkenny coaches, Noel Devlin, Ger McDonald, John Buckley and Kieran Conway, were thrilled with how the venture went and they thanked everyone involved in making the tour such a great success.
Lesson learned in Italy will be put to the test during the next few weeks. This team has qualified for the Leinster League final against Navan on Saturday in Maynooth (3pm), and for the South East League final the following week. A double victory is not beyond the bounds of possibilities.