Cardiff and Vale College Rugby Academy have finished sixth in the Sanix World Rugby Youth tournament hosted by the city of Munakata in Japan.
The prestigious tournament is held every year during the first week of May, with participation by invitation only. Eight Japanese teams go up against eight selected overseas teams in what is considered to be one of the best schoolboy competitions in the world.
Previous winners include Grey College, South Africa (Ruan Pienaary, Francois Steyn), Christchurch Boys, New Zealand (Brodie Retallick, Dan Carter) and the Ratu Kadavulevu School (Seru Rabeni, Sitiveni Sivivatu).
CAVC were placed in a pool with St Peter’s College Auckland, Chubu University Haruhigaoka High School, and Higashi Fukuoka High School, and got off to a winning start with 14-7 and 18-13 wins over Higashi Fukuoka and Haruhigaoka, respectively.
Topping the pool came down to a shootout against St Peter’s, former school of Pat Lam, Denny Solomona and Patrick Tiupulotu, and there was no shame in a hard fought 0-10 defeat against the side that would eventually go on to be runners-up overall.
A second place pool finish was enough to qualify for the quarter-finals, but a disappointing first half saw the team go in 5-24 down to Waverley College Sydney and a strong second half could not prevent a 24-34 loss in the end.
Returning to winning ways against Exeter College thanks to a 31-26 scoreline, CAVC headed into the 5th/6th place play-off against Osaka Toin High School but were just edged out 42-51 in a thrilling game.
All of CAVC’s games can be found on the tournament’s YouTube channel here.
More than the tournament though, the players and coaches involved have had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, in a rugby sense mixing with players and coaches have different cultures and environment around the world.
Also in a life sense, in visiting Japan’s largest Aston Martin dealership with their Head of Global Strategy, the Welsh Government Offices at Tokyo’s British Embassy, and Kitakyushu, where Wales will be based during September’s World Cup.
Hopefully we’ll be seeing some of the squad running out at the Arms Park every other weekend soon.