Shropshire Star

South African adventure a hit on and off pitch for Haberdashers

Haberdashers' Rugby team jetted off to South Africa for a trip of a lifetime in July.


After touching down in Cape Town, they had an action packed 15 days ahead of them.

They did a three-hour climb of the famous Lion's Head, visited Robin Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 25 years and took in the views of Table Mountain.

After visiting Cape Town, the group flew to Durban and Johannesburg, where they had the chance to watch the famous Springboks take on Argentina.

But the trip was only made possible by the valiant efforts of the group, who fundraised relentlessly to turn a dream into reality.

"As a school we've got a proud heritage of touring. In the ten years that I've been here, we've toured or taken students away over 30 times," teacher Will Bennett, said.

"On the back of Covid, we hadn't had a big one for a while. We use the tours from an academic point of view.

"Every young student that comes wants to work towards it. It's a big selling point to the boys that they are going to really need to get involved with it.

"Each student got a local sponsor so we had over 25 local businesses individually sponsor the boys throughout the two years.

"There was over three bag packs, they sold sweets and ice creams, they did a Kilimanjaro climb challenge.

"Just every kind of small fundraising thing you can imagine. They raised over £12,000 in those two years.

"We were able to get their kit to look the part and ultimately get them on the plane over there. That's all part of the build-up and the boys were really invested in the process."

Haberdashers had time for a match against the world renowned Wyndberg School, who are nationally ranked in the top 10 in South Africa, and also faced Durban Boys - narrowly losing out in both games.

But one of the stand out moments was a match against a township team called Massey, which teacher Bennett described as an eye opening experience.

"It's quite a complicated societal process over there and we played an actual township team," he revealed.

"After the game, food was put on, a lot of the boys gave kit to them, including boots, because a lot of them didn't have boots.

"They gifted them stationary and presents that they had saved up for. We stayed for hours after and it was just a real eye opener for the lads.

"Ultimately they think they have their challenges over here, but for those boys in South Africa, it's a totally different situation.

"It opened our boys up to wider things and got them to look at stuff a little differently."

And after returning from the 15-day tour, Bennett hopes that the experience will leave an indelible mark on everyone involved.

"Before we went, the students that went back in 2017 came in for a talk and spoke about the fact that they hold onto everything they learned.

"They passed that message onto our current students. That was something that we pitched to the boys, and hopefully they'll wake up in the morning and have those memories."