The Detroit Tradesmen Colts returned from Ireland and concluded their first international tour Tuesday. The Tradesmen Colts are made up of players from 9 high school clubs, mostly from the Detroit Metro area, but also including Grand Rapids, Mich., Ft. Wayne, Ind. and Nashville, Tenn.
The Colts met in Chicago for the flight to Dublin on April 3, and, upon arrival, went straight to a training session with Leinster’s Derek Dowling. They played their first fixture against the Skerries at the scenic Malahide Rugby Club outside of Dublin the following day.
As is often the case, the score didn’t support how closely matched the teams were, as the Skerries were able to capitalize off of some overloads from quick restarts and second-phase play to best the visitors in a the twilight match. The Colts dominated the tight play and ground their way to 15 hard-earned points, but gave up some long breaks ultimately fell to the Skerries by two tries and a conversion (27-15).
After taking in some local color, the Colts left Dublin for Nenagh, where they tried their hand at Irish Hurling before heading back to Dublin to play against the Turenure College RFC and take in the Heineken Cup match between Leinster and Cardiff at AVIVA stadium.
Many of the lessons that were learned against the Skerries were implemented in the Turenure match, and the results were closer, but the Tradesmen could not capitalize on their second half rally and again fell short of victory. Play was dominated by the larger American forwards, but disorganization in the second phases proved to be the undoing once again.
The final training session of the tour was conducted outside of Galway by former Connacht player and current Irish U19 coach Nigel Carolan. Nigel’s session focused on handling and much needed defensive alignment strategies, and the Colts hoped to close their tour down with a win the following day against the Westport RFC.
While victory alluded the young tourists, the level of play rose with every match, and the Westport match had the Colts within a single try of winning, but they were held off until full time by a determined Bulls team.
18 players made it across and back, and the tour was considered a success by all. The Detroit Tradesmen Colts plan to make the spring tour an annual event and are beginning preparations for a South American tour in the spring of 2013. Information on the Colts can be found at www.DetroitTradesmen.com, or by contacting Dave Huff (