The non-playing tourists departed on Wednesday to explore and recce, with the main tour party arriving on Friday. While the recce party had good intentions, they had not made it more than 100m from the hotel to the Porto Tour buses, but nevertheless that reach encompassed a handful of good restaurants and importantly the Old Greens Private rugby club bar.
With players from Ireland and Arizona swelling the London contingent, we congregated at the rugby club bar with our hosts on arrival, and had a very enjoyable evening marvelling at the décor in what was an impressive drawing and dining room whilst availing of the well-stocked bar which included of course what Porto is famous for.
Kick-off on Saturday was in the evening at the fine university stadium allowing us time to attempt to rehydrate and plan tactics. The Old Greens, not content with ‘force feeding’ us port the night before, turned up with enough players to fill both sides and with most of their players younger than ours! The match started very well with the Bs taking an early lead. The rest of the first 3rd was a proper battle with both sides defending well and attacking straight through the middle. Old Greens managed to get a try before the end of the first third and we went into the first break knowing we were in for a hard match.
Unfortunately a few dehydration-related injuries to our players put us on the back foot somewhat and this, coupled with general exhaustion, meant that holding on to the ball seemed to be a struggle. The Old Greens showed no such problem and managed to score 3 more tries in the second third, utilising their fairly athletic looking and constantly tag-teamed back line.
We went into the final third wanting, and digging deep, for a good final performance and were camped on their line for a significant part of the time but in the end were unable to score. Having only conceded one more try at this point a promising break-through their line ended with an intercepted offload that allowed them the final say.
The score ended with the Bs in deficit by 5 tries to 1. However, we held our heads high knowing that the odds had been stacked against us – numerically and age-wise.
Post-match we returned to the Club house in Porto, which as stated by many was the most amazing club house any of us have been in, worthy of an Oxbridge college. It’s well worth a visit to see the splendid facilities. With great hospitality, we were wined and dined into the early hours. Many new friends were made and, thanks to the acoustics in the dining room, the Bs very definitely won the traditional choir session.
Sunday, nursing sore heads and aching bodies, we travelled to the beach en masse for a reviving swim and a very long lunch, followed by rounding off the tour watching the world famous sunset on the Douro River with - of course - a Port in hand. Perfect!
We left knowing we had represented the Club well, upheld the Bs great touring traditions, made new friends, and as always had a great time with comrádaithe.