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Greetings from the Republic of South Africa!
We are staying at the Rugby Performance Camp in Riebeek West where the team is learning new skills.
The game in Ellis Park vs. the Westrand Harlequins could not have gone any better. The Harlequins were celebrating their 120th anniversary in the 65,000 seat stadium for the pre-match to the Sharks and Lions Super 15 Match.
The game was a fast-paced, back and forth affair with multiple trys scored by both teams. Jack Voigt, Cody Webber and Joni Hare all scored one try, with Phil Ozorkowitz scoring two trys. Kicks were made by Matt Schwartz, Louis Peens, John Knutsen and Jack Vogt. The final score was 40 to the Westrand and 37 to the Jayhawks. In the last minute of the game, the Jayhawks had an opportunity to go for a penalty kick and tie the score, but decided to go for the win by kicking to touch and using the last minute line out. Unfortunately, KU fell short in the loss.
All fans and players alike were very proud of the effort made by the Jayhawks. We were then able to watch the Lions vs. Sharks match, which turned out to be a high scoring test, which was won by the Lions in the last seconds of the game, 39-37.
The following day we travelled to Capetown where we were able to see the beautiful sights (Tabletop Mountain) and take in the world famous waterfront of Capetown. After a long evening of adventures, it was home to bed in the hostel.
Monday morning was early to rise for a three hour drive through the gorgeous wine country of the West Cape. Farming country with endless miles of grapevines, wheat, kudu and cattle. We arrived in the small town of Riebeek West to a state of the art rugby training facility. The camp has hosted numerous overseas and local teams, but we are the first American squad to visit. Day one was filled with two-a-day practices, film sessions and a court session, where the players brought their minor grievances to the court in front of Judge Lechtenburg, where he levied out appropriate fines. The evening was finished by a rookie talent show where we saw another side to the players. The group will attend a wine tasting and dinner this evening, and the team will play another match on Wednesday against a local all-star 15. The weather finally turned to “winter” for one day, with three inches of rain. To the north of the valley, we can see snow on the mountains. Everyone has been kept dry and safe.
With only six days left of the tour, we are having fun and soaking up every last minute of the local culture that we have.