Rugby Tour – Sangria & Broken Legs

My first ever senior men’s rugby tour was an amazing experience for a number of reasons. The Story goes…

I was a young naïve 18 year-old sitting in the Lord Burleigh pub. Eight pints down in a heavy session with great friends our debate on who could become world champion at darts was interrupted when my Nokia 3310 roared to life on the table. I answered with an ‘‘ello governer!’. It was Manny from the club. 

They had a few guys pull out of their tour to Portugal due to work commitments and at the last minute needed some extra numbers.  Would I be interested in coming? I asked what the catch was. Manny  said “all you need is a packed bag and make the bus by 3am which is leaving from the club to the airport”. 

Furthermore I had to play two games of rugby, provide some banter and not pay for a thing. I agreed, necked my remaining pint of Guinness and stumbled home to the flat. I made the bus in time and fell asleep for a few drunken hours’ kip.

Before we departed from the Airport to Portugal everyone was briefed on the rules for the weekend. The were some strict rules from the leadership group and if we broke them we would have drinking punishments for any offenses or stupidity. The level of punishment would be determined by the leadership group.

As I was the youngest on tour I had the honor of carrying the team’s woolen knitted mascot. The doll was based on one of the club’s legendary past players. Let’s call him Jonny. Jonny was never to leave my side the whole trip regardless of what I was doing, the only exception being when we were playing Rugby. 

With the Guinness not sitting right in my stomach and a few pre flight nerves I raced to the bathroom for two reasons. The result was one destroyed toilet and one destroyed sink. In my desperate attempt to make the toilet without spewing on anyone I had left Jonny the mascot sitting in my seat. First mistake I made as he was missing when I got back. Offense was noted.

Kangaroo Court

Court sessions are great for team building.  Delivering punishments for breaking the weekend rules need to be enforced at that is done through drink. We were summoned to the pool area and the poison of choice was Sangria.

When it was my turn to stand up in front of the senior leadership team I did not know what to expect. I held Jonny tightly, a little nervous but excited to learn what I was in for. My punishment for losing Jonny in the first five minutes was a jug skull of Sangria.

My second punishment was because I had already been sick on tour. My first jug was to be followed by a second jug of Sangria. This was by far the most liquid I had every attempted in one go. Having not a lot in my stomach at this stage I was battling to down the two drinks. I then thought I had finished my punishments when the team felt I should do an extra two shots of tequila. One shot was for being the youngest on tour and one for Jonny as he couldn’t enjoy it himself.

From my first court session I learnt that what the senior leaders decided had to be followed. Team members loved to get naked. Some team members were excellent boat race drinkers. Some team members were just sick men.

Now there is a code for what goes on tour stays on tour so some things cannot be mentioned but those who have been involved in a court session will have their own idea of what went on.

Helping the Community

Over the four days there were a number of highlights for me. Playing rugby in a foreign country half drunk. Swimming in the warm ocean currents half drunk. Enjoying the culture, atmosphere and beautiful women in the bars and clubs, again half drunk. While out one night a team mate and I got talking to some women a few years older than us.

After a great night of dancing, drinking, laughs and more nudity we proceeded to the taxi stand. On our way there the girl I had under my arm said she better tell her friend that we were leaving. She took off her heels, turned around and ran back to the bar. As I turned to watch ten meters ahead of us she tripped on the cobbled road and fell over. We ran to her aid…



We realized something had gone very badly in her fall. Her femur bone (long bone in the upper leg) had snapped in half. The bone had not quiet pierced the skin but all the same it was a very disturbing break. It reminded me of a chicken bone I had seen on someone’s plate earlier that day. Doctors would say it was a compound break. Everyone was in shock and still to this day many years later I remember the incident and wonder how the hell did something like that happen? Weeks later we heard she was on the mend after an extra weeks in the local hospital.

Many players will have fond memories of court sessions and touring. I believe it is necessary for a team’s success and bonding. It is good for men’s mental health. Sometimes we are not in good shape physically for a number of weeks afterwards but it is all worth it. It is a life experience a lot of young players will never forget. Especially when you are tested on your drinking ability, have a near death experience in the pool and nights out where women are breaking their legs.

At we would like to start and Rugby diaries page for a bit of banter and a few laughs. We will be posting anonymous stories from our readers and members. If you have an interesting story or a good laugh please fire it through to us. Email


Nick McCashin

Nick McCashin

Nick McCashin is a former Bay of Plenty representative who has played professionally in England, France and Spain. Nick is currently playing and coaching in Scotland where he is writing and developing content to help players excel on and off the field.