In his latest column for Fifteen Rugby, Dan Lewis reflects on the experience of his old school tournament, the St Joseph’s Festival.
Across the Channel:
It has been a busy few weeks. The Rugby World Cup reaching the business end, and the Top14 recommencing after a long break, whilst the Espoir league is well and truly in the thick of things.
For me there’s been another big rugby event recently that has grasped my attention. That of course was the St Joseph’s College national schools rugby festival, which once again was a resounding success. This tournament means a great deal to me, being an old ‘Joey’ – I was lucky enough to win the competition in 2013 and to be named joint player of the tournament alongside captain and good friend Lewis Ludlum, who is now at Northampton Saints.
However, I’ve never had the experience of returning to the event as an old boy, and as much as that’s an opportunity I hope to one day make the most of, I’m glad in a way that I haven’t been able to yet, and here’s why:
Firstly the entire weekend was so well covered on Fifteen Rugby that it’s like you’re there anyway, and secondly because playing my school rugby, and in particular playing in that festival, was not only incredible, it was also what has given me the opportunity to further my rugby, move to a new country, and to play for Oyonnax Rugby. I’m so grateful for the tournament and all it has done for me, but on the other hand, I’m so happy to be where I am and to be putting in the work achieve with my team mates this side of the Channel. Yes of course I’d love to have been there to support the lads and to catch up with friends, but winning our game here against Bourgoin in front of a home Oyonnax crowd that weekend meant just as much to me, and that situation in my opinion typifies something that any sportsman or sportswoman must put first, especially in a team game.
Finally, returning to the main focus of the World Cup. Being an Englishman living in France, there has of course been a decent level of banter towards myself since our early exit, and I’d be lying if I said it was easy to take. However it’s strange really, since around last Saturday evening, the teasing and comments seem to have calmed down a fair bit…
By Dan Lewis
Dan Lewis is currently an Espoir at French Top 14 club Oyonnax. He was fly half for the St Joseph’s College 1st XV during their triumph at the 2013 St Joseph’s Festival, playing for England U18 Clubs and Schools later in that 2013/14 season.