46 touring players from Barrie RFC, Ontario will be visiting Mortimer Park to play our Colts and Under 16s, kicking off at 6.15pm and 7.30pm respectively.

Luctonians Under 16s
Luctonians RMS Colts

The tour leader is coach Andrew Davies, a former Luctonian (who we’ll look at below) and son of Lucs’ past player, Club Secretary for two decades and renowned raconteur and scribe Huw Davies. The tourists include Andrew’s two sons Osian and Rhys who played at Lucs, including a game against Hereford, during a family visit in October 2021. For the 2018/19 season Andrew was awarded ‘Canada Rugby Volunteer of the Year’, for services to Canadian Rugby.

The boys boarding the bus at the start of their journey

The ‘Sky Blues’ flew out of Toronto on Wednesday 6th March, their first port of call being Paris where, following practice at Rueil-Malmaison and a visit to the Palace of Versailles, they played games under lights against Rueil-Malmaison Rugby Club. Then, following two days of taking in the sights of Paris, a visit to the Normandy beaches and as spectators at the Racing 92 vs Toulon fixture, they head for the UK.

Flying in to Bristol, they travel by coach to Bath, where they will be based for the next four days. Rugby practice at King Edward’s School is followed by a tour of the Roman Baths and a stroll around the city.

We now reach Tuesday 12th March and, at early doors, the tourists head out to visit Tintern Abbey, Goodrich Castle, Hereford Cathedral, Ludlow Castle and a walk around that historic market town.

Having returned to Bath at about midnight, the tourists head on down to London the following morning to take in all of the tourist attractions. On Thursday they go druid with a visit to Stonehenge returning later to Bath, where they play King Edward’s School, followed by an evening in the city.

On Friday morning they traverse the Dyke to hike up Pen y Fan, before heading to Cardiff, and the Arms Park for the Wales vs Italy U20 International.

On Saturday, following a morning in town, they’re in the Principality Stadium for the Six Nations Wales vs Italy game. Immediately after the final whilstle it’s back on the bus for the trip to Gatwick, flying out the following morning.

It’s always good to see a former player return to Mortimer Park especially if he is from Canada and brings two rugby teams with him.

Andrew Davies turned up in Kingsland in 1983 never having played rugby before and it was almost four years  before some local friends persuaded him to give it a go. He quickly experienced a “road to Damascus“ moment and  found a sport that was to become a lifelong passion. In 1989 – 1990 he captained Lucs Colts in a season that included a win over Hereford in the days when our neighbours to the south were very much the big boys on the block. The captaincy of Plymouth University followed and this included a memorable tour to The Bahamas where Andrew had been born, a country incidentally that the Bucknell Barbarians would also visit several years later.

His next club was Hyères located on the French Riviera just down the coast from Toulon. There was no salary involved but he was provided with somewhere to live and the ice cream concession on the beach. Many French rugby clubs are owned and funded by the local municipality and the passion that the residents show in their team is unrivalled and every bar owner and restauranteur competes to show their generosity should a player happen to drop in.

After two seasons in France he returned to the U.K. where a quick scan of the job vacancies revealed that a degree in Geography was hardly likely to provide him with the lifestyle to which he aspired. An accountancy qualification might do the trick so he next moved to Jersey where a further six seasons of rugby provided him with the backdrop to him becoming a Chartered Account.  At this stage his parents were optimistic enough to hope that his new qualification would at last lead to a “proper“ job. No chance!

Andrew had always wanted to test himself at a higher level of rugby so for the 1997 – 1999 seasons he took himself to Colorado to play for the Gentlemen of Aspen. Aspen were the top club side in the States at that time and had got there by importing a selection of quality players from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, scarcely an American in sight, apart from Donnie Harbert that is. His  proper  job was still some time away however as  the USA  did not recognise his British qualification and so he occupied himself with a variety of jobs including being a bouncer at local nightclubs, ferrying illegal Mexicans to work and painting Kevin Costner’s house. It was a seducing lifestyle but at the end of his second season he snapped his ACL and that was the end of his Disneyworld existence and his rugby career.

There was more to come however as he then spent time with the Calgary Saints rugby club in Alberta before moving back to The Bahamas where he started his coaching career and finished as coach of the Bahamas national side. It was here that he recognised the potential of Dan Woodside who he sent across to play for us and Dan will surely be the only spear fisherman to have pulled on a Lucs jersey and the only Luctonian to have played in the Hong Kong Sevens.

Finally, Andrew and family moved to Canada eight years ago and his involvement with Barrie rugby club located an hour north of Toronto on Lake Simcoe has led to him organising this, his first transatlantic tour.