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SA DIARY

Posted on 28 July 2007  - 12:00

The squad was invited to a Gala dinner on Wednesday night to mark the climax of the tour. With guests from both our defeated opponents present along with local dignitaries, the formalities of the evening were hosted by rugby legend, 2005 Rugby World Cup winning coach Morne du Plessis who chatted with Martin Jol and the Spurs coaches throughout the evening.

The squad was invited to a Gala dinner on Wednesday night to mark the climax of the tour. With guests from both our defeated opponents present along with local dignitaries, the formalities of the evening were hosted by rugby legend, 2005 Rugby World Cup winning coach Morne du Plessis who chatted with Martin Jol and the Spurs coaches throughout the evening.Before the dinner, the squad had taken time to meet with a group of thirty young children form Ekurhuleni based children’s homes. The youngsters had spent the afternoon enjoying themselves watching magic shows and football videos, but the highlight of their day came when the Spurs squad presented each child with a goodie bag containing, amongst other things, a Spurs baseball cap and a poster of White Hart Lane and as the children opened their gifts, the lads were only too happy to sign autographs and pose for photos.

It was then a 6am start for almost the whole party, who took the opportunity of making the 50-minute short-hop flight to visit a game reserve.

It was a thrilling experience for all and we were lucky enough to get up close to four of the 'big five' sightings - leopard, lions, elephants and hippos. The lions were a little docile having recently made the kill of a giraffe and were not looking the most mobile. Looking at the size of their bellies as they were lying on their backs, digestion was going to be something of a lengthy process.

Jermain Defoe was questioning the guide as to the speed of each particular wild animal - mostly to work out how he would get on in a race against them!

On Friday it was back to training at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, roughly a 45-minute transfer from our hotel in Johannesburg. The squad were put through their paces in an extended session before Martin Jol and Dimitar Berbatov faced the media at Vodaworld, home of tournament sponsors Vodacom.

At the end of the briefing, Martin was presented with a Vu Vu Zela by Pirates supporter and did have a bash at extracting sound from what is a sort of long horn. There was a further training session in the afternoon and now it is down to the last game of what has been a memorable tour.

The aim from the game against Orlando Pirates is to become the first team to take the Vodacom Challenge trophy out of Africa.