When it was first proposed that OURLFC went on a summer tour, few could have imagined the scale and success of the trip that in the end materialised. While Ghana is not the most traditional location for a rugby league tour, we were privileged to be welcomed into the passionate and burgeoning rugby community that exists there. The love of the game was clear for all to see, not least during the women’s and youth games from the domestic league that we were lucky enough to watch during the week, and among the whole range of people we met who gave up their time to spread awareness and excitement about the sport across Accra and its surrounding area. Throughout our tour we were privileged to help them in this mission. This involved visiting a number of schools where the Rugby League Federation of Ghana had recently introduced the sport, where we ran our own sessions for the boys and girls of all ages. It also involved a series of media duties and throughout our time in Accra various members of the squad were deployed to all the major Ghanian broadcasters to promote the sport of rugby league ,and our forthcoming match against the national team. While this was a great experience for those who took part, and made for some entertaining viewing for the rest of the squad, we hope it may have helped expand the audience for rugby league.
The most exciting aspect of this promotion however, was our own three match series, which culminated in a match against the Ghanian national side. The first match against the President’s Select XIII came two days after our arrival. With little idea of what to expect, and facing an opposition who were much larger than we were used to, the boys put down a great marker of our physicality, and came away with a 26-8 victory with notable performances from Archie Barraclough and Archie Mayes among others. This gave the whole squad great confidence for the rest of the tour, which was undoubtedly on show in our midweek 9’s match against the University of Ghana where some of our best rugby was played. Despite facing a number of players involved in the national set up, we came away with a fairly comprehensive 56-12 victory thanks to some clinical finishing across the field.By the time we faced the national side, it was clear we had a great chance if we were at our best. Although the Ghanian team led for much of the game, we always remained in touch, and going into the last 20 minutes only trailed by one score. It was not to be, however, and a series of late scores saw Ghana home to a 52-30 victory. Despite the loss, it was great to see the scale of support on the day, and how meaningful their victory was for all involved. It’s certainly clear that rugby league has a bright future in Ghana and we are all excited to see how far it can grow.
Aside from the rugby, we had great fun exploring all that Accra had to offer. Especially important was our trip round some of the former colonial buildings, and the surviving infrastructure of slavery, offering a moment of reflection of our troubled shared history. Aside from this we were warmly welcomed to the prestigious Ghana Club for lunch and to the British High Commission for an evening reception. Representatives of the RLFG generously gave up their time to show us round a number of markets and heritage sites, as well as arranging an impromptu motorbike ride through much of Jamestown. The Ghanian team also offered invaluable advice on the nightlife in Accra, which we sampled diligently throughout our time there, no less than after our final match where we shared a fantastic celebration of the tour with everyone involved with Ghanian rugby league, both on Saturday and Sunday evening.
Overall, the tour was a brilliant experience with a great group of lads, and it will live long in the memory. As a club there are many people we need to thank for making such a trip possible. First, we must thank everyone involved at the Rugby League Federation of Ghana for welcoming us so warmly, and giving up so much of their time to ensure we had the best experience possible. We must thank those who kindly sponsored the tour, especially Locate Developments, and a number of old boys who gave generously. Thanks to Jordan and Jamesy, for travelling out to help the squad prepare for the matches. And finally, we must thank club president Joe Grosvenor, and club captain Ryan Parry, both of whom invested huge amounts of time organising this tour, on top of all their other commitments to the club throughout the season. They have both been integral to the success of the club this season, and their efforts have left the club in such a strong position moving forward.
Our match against the President’s Select XIII can be watched here:
Our match against the Ghanian national team can be watched here:
SQUAD LIST: Ryan Parry, Ben Jackson, Harry Folkard, Jaiden Reeder, Joe Endacott, Joseph Grosvernor, James Milford, Charlie Hewes, Fergus Sandham, Dan Cotton, Logan Stewart, Ben Hobart, Dan Haslett, Ollie Bottle, Max Peacock, Reuben Harris, Zak Ball, Patrick Robinson, Charlie Hewes, Brian Kwizera, Archie Barraclough, Archie Mayes, Jack Gordon, Tom Duffield, Milo Wills
PLAYER OF THE TOUR: Archie Barraclough
SALMON OF THE TOUR: Archie Mayes
DOTT: Jaiden Reeder, Logan Stewart, Fergus Sandham