In April 2018, Rangi Ruru Girls’ School from Christchurch, New Zealand departed with students from their 1st, 2nd and 3rd XI for their once in a lifetime European Hockey Development Tour with Student Horizons.
Accompanied by Student Horizons Representative, Jeannine de Villiers, over 18 days the group toured The Netherlands, Belgium and England, playing competitive hockey fixtures, watching top NHL Hockey matches, experiencing a European school environment, mixing with students their age at amazing after-matches and seeing the iconic sights and culture of the countries visited.
The group arrived in Amsterdam first and very quickly played four games over the first few days, against top Hockey clubs and even a match with another New Zealand school, Diocesan School for Girls, who were also on a European Hockey Tour with Student Horizons. In-between the hockey matches, the group visited Anne Frank’s House, experienced a canal boat cruise, visited the Museumplein and the Albert Cuyp Markets, watched both the Amsterdam vs HDM Women’s and Rotterdam vs Kampong Men’s, seeing and experiencing the different level and skills of top national and international players.
The group had access into the iconic Peace Palace in The Hague before moving on to Rotterdam to spend their final days in Holland visiting the Keukenhof Gardens, shopping up a storm in Rotterdam, picnicking in Breda, receiving a coaching clinic from a top Dutch Hockey Club and played at B.H.V Push before continuing their journey to Belgium.
In Antwerp, the girls had an intensive 4-hour coaching session followed by a win against another top Hockey Club. Two New Zealand Black Sticks (Shea McAleese and Hugo Inglis) who play in Belgium even dropped by to show off their silver Commonwealth Games medal and answer questions from the girls about what it means to play hockey at an international level. In their free time the girls cycled through Antwerp to see the Cathedral of our Lady, Hetsteen Castle, Barbo’s Fountain, the MAS museum and visited Fort Breendonk, a World War Two concentration camp set inside a moat.
At a top club, Rangi Ruru were also treated to a phenomenal after match, complete with a traditional Flemish stew and endless hospitality, that lasted all the way to the coach. They concluded their stay in Ypres, Belgium by completing a full day guided pilgrimage of the New Zealand regiments involvement in Flanders Fields during World War One and the Menin Gate Last Post Ceremony, a truly immersive and touching day full of reflection and remembrance.
After a quick stop in a French mall, the group caught the Eurostar from Lille to London and then later that night went to a Rangi Ruru Old Girls Function at New Zealand House. Followed by an early rise for the ANZAC Day Dawn Service and their final Hockey match later that afternoon, a truly competitive game against brilliant hosts that even included a BBQ in the sunshine. The last few days were spent in Oxford Circus, shopping up a storm, attending Mamma Mia at the Novello Theatre and finally a guided walking tour of London.