Once again we arose early to another beautiful day in the forever amazing Tupou College. The day began with an early wake up at approximately 5:45am, followed by a morning prayer led by Sione and preparation for an early training run.
Whilst the rugby boys trained in the morning rain, the service learning boys visited the kindergarten to clean up the outdoor playground, as it was filled with seeds, pods, leaves, sticks and weeds from the surrounding area.
Following these activities, all the boys had much needed showers and a small amount of time to rest after their tiresome work in the early morning rain. Following this small rest the boys dressed in full blazer uniform, and attended the Monday morning assembly in the sacred Tupou Chapel, led by Mr. Quince. Hymns were sung and prayers were preached. This provided the Newington touring party with valuable lessons and even more cultural spirituality for us all to learn, respect and then share with others once our journey ends.
The boys then made their way to the library for a scrumptious breakfast provided by the hospitable Tongan women. This breakfast provided us all with the energy and morale to conquer all challenges that the day had to offer.
After breakfast, began the work of the day as the rugby boys sorted the remaining books and videos that were provided by the Newington community, while the service learning boys once again headed to the kindergarten area. However this time, instead of tidying, the boys provided the children with new toys and resources for their play and activities. This experience of providing joy to these children was a special highlight for us with Mr Quince not having attended the kindergarten before, let alone any boys.
Once this was completed the boys headed back to dormitory for few hours rest before lunch and the afternoon of rugby and other activities. Before lunch the boys made their way up to the library where we all met Steve Finau (ON ’66) who is regarded as one of the best sportsman who has ever attended Newington College. He provided us with touching words of advice and stories of the relationship between Tupou and Newington. We also heard about his tragic car accident with and the kindness of others to fund his rehabilitation. Following his words we ate another delectable meal, once again prepared by the Tongan wonder women.
Following lunch, the rugby boys prepared for their game through necessary hydration. During the required hydration period, the service boys bounded into the science classroom with Diana Organ where they assisted the education of a class of Form 3 (year 9) Tupou boys. They learnt all about characteristics of native Australian animals as well as introduced species. It was a great experience to work with the Tupou students.
Then arrived the moment all boys on the Toloa campus had been waiting for: the 15’s rugby game. The experience began with a warm up directed by head coach, Brad Gill (Newington 1st XV coach). Following the warm up, commentary by Asaike entertained the crowd, whilst Newington boys made team speeches to motivate the boys. Rugby captain, Byron Blaik, had the main say and more or less told the boys to do what they had been doing all season long. In no time, the Tupou team ran out, and said a brief bible verse to wish them the best in their game. Newington then ran out and sung the Australian National Anthem which was played by the Toloa brass band, followed by the Tongan National Anthem which was sung by the Tupou rugby team and all Tupou boys. A moment of silence was necessary and respects were paid to a Tupou boy who had tragically passed away during the week. Shortly before kick off, guests of honour, Cameron Quince and the Deputy Principal of Tupou College, met all members of the opposing teams.
The game began with Tupou kicking off to Newington. An early penalty was awarded to Newington, however the possession was fairly even, due to mistakes made by both sides. As play continued Newington applied more pressure and held their defence admirably. Soon enough there was a defining moment when the Tupou winger dropped the kick made by Newington, which was recovered by Newington which led to a try in the corner for Cameron ‘Muzza’ Murray. Unfortunately the conversion was unsuccessful with the ball hitting the crossbar, keeping the score at 5-0. Play continued with forward play being a big part in both team’s tactics. Fortunately this led to another Newington try by Hamish Duvall. Again the conversion was missed and the score remained 10-0. As time passed, a magnificent catch made by Zac Newton turned the play around and with some simple backs play, Newington scored a third time through Adam Miller. This time the conversion was successful and the score moved to 17-0.
Play continued and eventually half time was reached. Te halftime ntertainment was provided by the brass band for the crowd. Throughout the song, Mr. Quince and Mr. Corcoran provided a laugh for everyone with their dancing and motorbike impersonation.
Newington kicked off to begin the second half. Physical play and big hits were on show from both teams. High pressure was applied and eventually, the Newington defence cracked. Pick and drive play from Tupou College led to a try in the corner. The conversion fell just short and the score remained at 17-5. Play continued and Newington hit back with an excellent run by Cameron Murray as he evaded several defenders and scored under the posts. The conversion was successful from the captain, Byron Blaik. The score moved to 24-5. Tupou then hit back quickly however they where held up by the strong Newington defence, holding up the ball then taking a tight head scrum win. Although Tupou were playing physically, the Newington backs played very well which lead to a try to Tyrone Taukamo with his Tongan relatives going wild. The conversion was unsuccessful and the score was 29-5. Tupou had one last bite at the biscuit; however, the Newington defence held them up, once again. The game concluded and Newington won their first game in the four year history of the tour to Toloa.
After the rugby, there were three presentations made by Mr. Gill. These included man of the match, who was given a combined GPS jersey, the match ball to the Tupou captain and finally a set of jerseys to the team from Randwick Rugby Club. After the game and presentation, all the boys went back to shower and rest before dinner.
Dinner was quite the feast including another huge roasted pig and various other side dishes. This meal satisfied all the boys, especially those involved in rugby. Due to the win, the Tongan women treated the boys to a magnificent desert of ice cream and cake. The boys were perhaps overfilled.
Following the victorious feast, we found a new friend. The puppy, who we named Peanut, was regarded by all as the cutest thing we’d ever seen. However, the white Labrador was discovered to have fleas and was quickly evicted and then escorted from the dormitory. This action killed us all on the inside and we reflected on the short, amazing time with our friend Peanut.
So ended another day in paradise for the Newington boys in Tonga.
By Tom Sanders and Gus Lukes.