A 20 strong contingent of Sarries left Bristol on the 26th April for a long weekend of rugby and drinking in Granada. The skies in the UK had just started to turn grey after a surprisingly pleasant Easter period, and this was taken as a good omen. The touring party arrived at their hostel (El Granado) at the stroke of midnight and, despite having endured a 5 hour journey (including an extended stay in the airport due to a delayed flight), many Sarries found the resolve to head out into town to sample the local bars and kebab shops.
After a continental breakfast the following morning, Sarries headed up to the hostel terrace for court, where coach and acting judge Dean Taylor presided over punishments. There was only a brief moment to relax in the Spanish sun before the order was given to prepare the kit bags and march to the Estadio de la Juventud where the game was to be played. The opposition – Rugby INEF Correcaminos – were a mixed team, so a ladies game had been scheduled before the mens game. While watching this game unfold, the considerable heat was becoming a concern for the players, and this was only confirmed once the warmup began.
The game itself started well enough, with Sarries scoring the opening try thanks to some creative movement and passing in the backs. The 4G surface made for unpredictable bounces, and a number of injuries – including to resident All Black Todd Jones – took their toll. With the ball in hand, Correcaminos made devastating use of their pace and agility, and put the game beyond doubt within the first half. However, Sarries were able to score 3 more tries of their own before the final whistle.
Following the game, Sarries donned their official tour attire – Hawaiian shirts – and met up with Correcaminos in a local bar for post match drinks and tapas. This culminated in a boat race in the street outside followed by numerous renditions of English and Spanish drinking songs. This was also when a few of the Spanish players noticed our coach bears a striking resemblance to Alberto Chicote – Spain’s answer to Gordon Ramsay. Needless to say ‘Chicote’ has now been embraced as an official nickname.
That evening, the party moved on to a different bar where members of both teams took part in strip table football. Sarries were not content losing just once that day, and soon all remaining dignity was – quite literally – tossed aside. All in all however, everyone ended the day in high spirits, battered and bruised but with new friends and a slightly improved Spanish vocabulary.
Sunday was a much more laid back affair, with trips to Alhambra, the old town and a kart track on the itinerary. There were general elections being held in Spain that day, which had left quite a few shops and restaurants unmanned and therefore closed. However there were still enough places open to allow beer and tapas to be enjoyed in the sun. That evening, Sarries took the narrow streets through the Albaycin district to the San Nicolas viewpoint to enjoy a sunset view of the Alhambra. The day ended with yet more drinking.
Monday kicked off with a particularly punishing session of court. The tour virgins were all given grueling initiations in which their stamina, strength and stomach capacity were all tested to the limit. With the return flight not scheduled to depart until 9pm that evening, Sarries debated the best way to pass the time. The younger, more sensible, contingent decided to head to a local 7’s tournament that was being held at the university. The older, more experienced, contingent enjoyed copious amounts of brandy at numerous establishments around the city centre. Needless to say some were decidedly fresher come 9pm in the airport departure lounge.
Sarries arrived back into Bristol tired but contented, and with plenty of stories to tell. It had been a successful tour, and a fitting end to a great season. What awaits the tourists next year?