PORT Macquarie junior rugby team – the Hogs’ – tour of New Zealand has been three years in the making.
The team flew across the Tasman on Wednesday for an eight-day tour that focused on father and son bonding time.
Organiser and club coach Andrew Kable said the team played in the Port Macquarie Junior Rugby Union competition on a Friday night.
While they will play matches against two New Zealand representative sides, Kable said it would be an opportunity to open the boys’ eyes to new cultures.
“One of the fathers is from a Maori heritage and his family are over there so we’re going to visit his tribe and stay in his marae; it will be a real cultural experience,” Kable said.
“It’s probably more about fathers and their sons bonding.
“It gives the kids the opportunity to learn about a different culture while also playing rugby against arguably the number one nation in the world.”
The trip will be the first time the Hogs have headed overseas.
Kable said the fathers had thrown different ideas around as to how they could give their sons a similar opportunity to what they had growing up playing rugby.
“Quite a few of us have played rugby as young blokes ourselves,” he said.
“We spoke about the opportunities we had growing up and wanted to give our kids the same opportunities.
“Rugby union is an international game and it opens the door not just to play rugby, but travel, meet new people and as they get older it opens the door in business and corporate employment.”
While it is a good chance to experience an overseas trip, Kable said the team knew it was also an important one.
“The boys know they’re very lucky and have been excellent,” he said.
“We told them they’d have to get out, pound the street and knock on doors selling raffle tickets; they’ve been acting as ball boys at Vikings games as well so it’s been a good experience for them.”
The boys in the team come from across the Hastings.
“There’s a real cross-section,” Kable said.
“Originally the Hogs started out as St Peters and then we decided that rather than being a school team we wanted to throw it open to anyone that wanted to come on board.
“We’ve got boys from five different schools including Wauchope Primary and Regional so it gets the kids meeting other kids from around the local area as well.”