The 4th edition of the Tournament of the Two Hemispheres came to close, not devoid of emotion for the organisers as much as for the participants ! Owing to the quality of the sporting events, the richness of human interaction, the diversity of activities, the strength of the partnerships and the very likely future support of SARU, the South African Rugby Union, this edition of the tournament met its objectives in entirety.
On the sports front, the tournament may be characterised in terms of several points :
Firstly, on the South African side, Pretoria’s Blue Bulls is vastly superior to other South African teams in terms of technique, power and collective organisation. The steady progress of the Raiders over the course of the tournament should also be noted. Although the strength of their game lies primarily in their speed and the support of their quarter backs, they can now also rely on their forwards and in particular on stronger flankers.
On the French side, the Rhône-Alpes committee this year made a strong impression. Solid conquest, applied defence and better over-all organisation meant that this team could easily have won the tournament this year, were it not for misinterpreted arbitration decisions and missed opportunities such as a ball bouncing off the goal post in the dying moments of the match, which ultimately denied them a draw against the Bulls. In defence of the French committees, such factors as travel, adaptation to climate (hot and dry at this time of the year), altitude, injuries and a lack of group training made for difficult obstacles to be overcome.
Outside of rugby games, it was an intense week for our teams.
Quoting Nelson Mandela, Mark Alexander – vice President of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) – adressed the opening ceremony with the words “Sport has the power to save the world”, which was held in the magnificent Ellis Park Legend’s Room. Officials from SARU, the Golden Lions, French and South African teams, Jules Verne French School and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund reaffirmed the importance of the tournament and its objectives.
T2H junior players from the Jules Verne French School, St Stithians and the Miriam Makeba Primary School in Pretoria benefitted from training sessions with the T2H U20 teams, who interacted with the youngsters, answering questions and talking about their profession.
Thursday was eventful and filled with emotion. It commenced with a visit to the Winnie Ngwekasi Primary School in Pimville, Soweto, where the French delegations were warmly greeted by singing, dancing children. This meeting was the opportunity to exchange gifts and donations (a cheque to the value of R 10 000 was donated handed over by the committees of Languedoc and Rhône-Alpes, rugby equipment and school supplies were donated from all of the delegations).
Next up, the delegations paid a visit to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, where its representatives made a presentation of their project for the establishment of a children’s hospital, which would be President Nelson Mandela’s last legacy. The French Committees donated R 30 000 to this project. Professor Jacques GIORDAN from Montpellier, who was present at the event, reaffirmed his support to the project in the form of medical expertise and training of medical staff for the hospital. The visit was concluded with a buffet in the magnificent gardens of the Foundation.
The teams then visited the Apartheid Museum, which made a profound impact on many of the team members.
As for French and South African officials as well as sponsors, Jacques Lapouge, French Ambassador to South Africa expressed his continued support to the tournament through the Jules Verne French School at a reception in the gardens of the French Residence in Pretoria.
Other visits to Sandton City, Sun City and the Pilanesberg National Park among others, completed delegates’ discovery of South Africa and of Gauteng in particular.
Finally, a meeting between representatives of Jules Verne French school, from the French and South African teams, the FFR and SARU (South African Rugby Union, equivalent of the FFR), served to lay the foundations of a new organisation for the promotion of the Under-20 tournament in the two hemispheres. _
The first T2H Junior Tournament took place at the same time as the T2H under-20 Tournament, with 6 African teams from Benin, Congo, Gabon, Guinea Conakry, Morocco as well as teams from the Jules Verne French School and Jeppe Boy’s High in South Africa. Altogether 160 youngsters were taken in by families form Jules Verne where they lived a week of intense emotion, discoveries and, above all, hotly disputed rugby matches !
With their host families, some had the opportunity to visit Johannesburg and its attractions.
The programme also included a visit to the Pilanesberg National Park, where the children observed closely elephants, zebras, giraffes, wildebeest and others in their natural habitat ; with a presentation of each of their countries by the respective delegations.
These two tournaments would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors : Bouygues, Danone, GIG, Nestlé waters, Nestlé professional, Michelin, Silobag – Baobag, Renault, Total SA and the AEFE, to whom we are most grateful.
Long live the Tournament of Two Hemispheres !
Pictures available on : http://www.deonvandermerwe.co.za
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