Catering for England, Wales and Scotland fans (and a few Irish!), Gullivers is running 11 tours in 2018!
Here, some of our staff who worked out on tour give you an insight into working on a Six Nations weekend.
We're passionate about delivering a great experience for our clients, priding ourselves on giving a personal and friendly service - take a look at what we get up to before our clients arrive and what a Six Nations weekend is like from our perspective!
The excitement was building ahead of the first game between Wales and Scotland to kick off the start of the 2018 Six Nations! With the Scots flying high during the autumn, it (initially) promised to be a good game.
Jody, Rob, Ben and I made our way down to the Welsh capital on Friday night to make sure everything was in place for the big day. The atmosphere was already buzzing – the Welsh flooding the streets with yellow Daffodils, Welsh dragons and sheep hats! Whilst the Scots were braving the cold in their traditional tartan kilts and bagpipes in hand.
Early Saturday morning, the four of us made our way to the variety of hotels we had across the city centre for our ticket distribution. It was great chatting to clients in anticipation of the day’s game as well as hearing the friendly banter between the opposing teams! Once tickets were handed out and everyone was sporting our half and half scarfs, we regrouped at the Jurys Inn to host our pre-match Clubhouse event. With everything set up, clients all in and with drinks, we were pleased to welcome our special guest and most capped player for Wales, Gethin Jenkins, who was able to step into Dan Lydiate's place at short notice as he was unable to make it. Rob hosted a brilliant Q&A, with Gethin sharing his own stories about his career in rugby and his predictions for the game ahead. Our clients also had the opportunity to have their questions answered.
From the Clubhouse, we took a short stroll down to Principality Stadium and you could feel the excitement growing! The game got off to quick start, with the Scots missing their opportunity to score in the first two minutes, Gareth Davies intercepted and sprinted 60 metres for the opening try. The home nation were fourteen points up very soon and with an inspired performance from Leigh Halfpenny, they continued to out class Scotland throughout the game only allowing the visitors to score in the last minute. After the game, fans swamped the streets to make the most of the great nightlife Cardiff has to offer! A fantastic start for Wales, and plenty to think about for Scotland going into next weekend.
- Sofia G.
The 2018 Six Nations were finally here and England supporters were very much looking forward to exploring the ancient ruins of Rome and watching England win at the Stadio Olympico.
With over 1500 supporters travelling with Gullivers, there were many different flights coming in to Rome on the Friday and Saturday, with supporters being able to choose from the three night or two night tour. Many supporters were already discussing that it was going to be essential that England got that all important bonus point for them to have a really strong chance of retaining the Six Nations for a record third year in a row. With many guests arriving in the early afternoon, they had the chance to explore the fascinating sights of Rome such as The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, The Vatican and the Spanish Steps. However, with this being the opening weekend of the Six Nations, the majority of supporters were off to watch the Wales v Scotland and France v Ireland games in various bars in Rome.
Match tickets were distributed on Sunday morning from the various hotels in Rome and guests were able to receive a half and half scarf from Gullivers, which everyone really appreciated on a cold morning in Rome! Supporters who ugraded their package were then treated to the very popular Gullivers Clubhouse function where this year's guests included World Cup winner Neil Back, ex-England Sevens Captain Ollie Phillips, 2009 Lions squad member and ex-England international Lee Mears and ex-Italy international Carlo Festuccia.
After the Clubhouse event, supporters made their way to the famous Stadio Olympico. Once inside the stadium, the sun was out and the chorus of Swing Low Sweet Chariot was ringing out around the ground.
The match started at a very quick pace with England scoring two early tries through Anthony Watson. This did change, with Italy getting back into the game and narrowing England’s lead to 3 points and bringing the score to 10-7. England hit back immediately through Farrell, bringing an entertaining first half to an end, where England led 17-10 at the break. Unfortunately, England did lose Ben Youngs in the first half due to a knee injury and he is now missing the rest of the Six Nations.
Italy continued to put the pressure on England and they almost had another try, but Tomasso Boni’s try was ruled out by a forward pass by Tomasso Allen. England then found their rhythm and scored two tries through debutant Sam Simmonds, one from George Ford and one from Jack Nowell. The game finished Italy 15-46 England, with England getting that all important bonus point. Questions will be asked about England’s defence and conceding so many points against one of the weaker teams in the tournament.
Everyone travelled back throughout Monday, with some clients lucky enough to spot the England team at the airport! All thoughts now turn to another must win game against Wales on Saturday.
- Ross C.
For English and Welsh fans, this game was destined to be the ultimate battle of this year’s Six Nations. With both teams winning their first games last week, stakes were high! Wales were suffering with injuries meaning both Halfpenny and Biggar were out, but they still had confidence that they could knock England out of the running for the grand slam.
We arrived in frosty London on Friday morning to check in with our hotels around the city and begin to welcome our early arrivals. We had a huge mix of English and Welsh fans, as well as neutral supporters who simply knew it would be a great game to witness! Excitement was already brewing so it was early nights all round to prepare for the big day.
On Saturday morning, match tickets were distributed and although it was a late afternoon kick off, fans started to make their way over to Twickenham early to soak up that infamous match day atmosphere. It was a wet and cold day, but the banter between the English and Welsh fans was in full force and nothing could dampen the spirits of what was going to be a fantastic day.
And the game was everything it was destined to be! England got off to a brilliant start with two tries from Jonny May within the first 21 minutes, while Wales were denied their only try due to a TMO decision on the grounding going against them (which ironically has actually now been confirmed by World Rugby as a mistake!), leaving the score 12-3 at half time.
The second half was certainly more in the favour of the visitors, but with an incredible tackle by Sam Underwood preventing another try for Wales, the full-time score was left 12-6.
No matter the result, all fans could agree it was a gripping game of rugby and everyone enjoyed the Saturday night celebrations regardless! A few sore heads on Sunday morning, but an amazing weekend all round.
- Jess T.
On a cold early Saturday morning, Ashleigh and I headed to Birmingham for our one hour flight to Edinburgh. A short taxi ride later, we were settled into our hotel room ready for the weekend ahead.
The weather in Edinburgh was great with sunshine all weekend and a sprinkling of snow showing the city in spectacular fashion. With lots to do a visit to Edinburgh castle is a must, standing high above the city, markets in the old town and the famous Scotch whiskey distillery, a delight for anyone wanting to expand their knowledge of this famous export.
On Sunday we headed to various hotels for match distribution, meeting lots of our clients from all the home nations and even one guest from Spain, the atmosphere was electric with everyone heading off to the game, lots of supporters from both sides donning their kilts in the cold afternoon sun.
At the game, Scotland set the tone with a goose bump rendition of Flower of Scotland. France put up a good fight but Scotland's physically and intensity throughout kept them in the game. Laidlaw was magnificent kicking eight out of eight kicks adding 22 points to Scotland’s performance. Scotland were on a back foot up until 10 minutes from the end when they took the lead for the first time and clinched the win 32-26.
After the game, the bars were packed with happy supporters; we headed to the Ghillie Dhu where we enjoyed the live music over a few drinks.
A great weekend enjoying the Scottish hospitality and look forward to returning again soon.
- Lisa Y.
The Six Nations returned with a bang with Grand Slam hopefuls Ireland - who were missing a number of British & Irish Lions players - hosting the much fancied Welsh team buoyed by their opening two fixtures and whom welcomed back their own Lions stars.
You are always assured of a warm welcome in Dublin and again this didn’t disappoint; the streets around Temple Bar were packed with both Irish and Welsh fans hoping their side could continue their form in the Championship. We had clients staying in six different hotels across the city which are all walking distance of each other, Temple Bar and the Aviva Stadium.
We woke up on match day with a crisp chill in the air but (unusually) dry conditions. With rumours circling that star player Johnny Sexton was a doubt for the match, the talk was could Wales upset the odds and provide another twist in this year’s tournament?
After enjoying the rousing anthems in the impressive Aviva Stadium, the match started at a frenetic pace with both teams hoping to win the collision and gain that competitive edge. An early Irish try by man of the moment Jacob Stockdale was cancelled by the Welsh sniping scrum half Gareth Davies. The difference in goal kicking was the only difference of the first half with Johnny Sexton having an off day with the boot. Wales looked to be going into the lead at half time but with the clock in the red, Bundee Aki crashed over to give Ireland a two point lead at the interval.
Ireland started the second half as they finished the first, putting huge pressure on the Welsh line. The defence held firm but after wave after wave of attacks, it was breached with both Dan Leavy and Cian Healy crossing for Ireland thus gaining the bonus point and stretching the lead to 14 points. Wales looked out of it, but as has been apparent in other games, the resurgence started and they a scored a try through Aaron Shingler which was converted by the ever reliable Leigh Halfpenny. Ireland for the first time in the match looked under pressure, but were awarded a scrum penalty which Conor Murray duly converted. Most in the crowd would have been forgiven for thinking that was the match won Wales put together a number of phases and scored a great team try through Steff Evans reducing the lead to three points with two minutes to play. Wales had a spring in their step and were looking very threatening before Gareth Anscombe threw a risky miss pass on half way that was intercepted by Stockdale who scored his second try of the match and denied Wales a bonus point.
Following the game, many of our clients made their way back into the Temple Bar area to enjoy the match at BT Murrayfield and the hospitality an evening in Dublin offers. Others had restaurant reservations but both in agreement they had witnessed a fantastic Test match with Ireland a deserved winner.
We woke up on Sunday to a beautiful morning without a cloud in the sky. Some of our clients had a lunch time flight back whereas others able to enjoy the sights of Dublin such as the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle and Kilmainham Gaol.
A Six Nations weekend in Dublin is a must for any rugby fan and this weekend will live long in the memory.
- Rob D.
The drive up to Edinburgh from our office in Tekesbury might be a long one but it is also one that passes some incredibly beautiful scenery. We found this out on Thursday as we head up the M6 past the Lake District and into Scotland.
As soon as we arrived into Edinburgh, we began the running around making sure all the hotels were ready for the guest arrivals and moving all the merchandise to the correct places. After a long day getting everything ready, it was nice to sit down in the Grassmarket area and enjoy a local pub quiz and some dinner. We might have lost but we gave it a good try – a theme that was to be repeated again over the weekend by the England team!
On Friday afternoon, it was great to be in some of the hotels to meet our clients and find out about everyone’s weekend plans. With such amazing weather, one might describe it as ‘fresh’ - the Gullivers scarves were the perfect accompaniment to the weekend dress! As more and more people arrived on Friday, the atmosphere really started to build with all the talk being about the games in the tournament so far. There was a real sense and feeling in Edinburgh that something special was about to happen on Saturday and the excitement was evident to all.
On Saturday morning, all the Gullivers staff were in place to hand out tickets and scarves to the travelling fans. Another perfect blue sky opened up so many options to explore an incredible city and I’m sure many people had the obligatory photograph with one of the many bagpipers lining The Royal Mile. For those that added the Clubhouse event to their package, Al Kelloch and Alex Corbisiero really got the atmosphere going with their passionate descriptions of what it’s like to be involved in a Calcutta Cup game. We followed this with a screening of the first half of the Ireland v Wales game before it was time to head off to BT Murrayfield for the big game.
What an atmosphere! Many of us have been lucky enough to travel to sports stadia around the world and witnessed some special moments, but the rendition of Flower of Scotland starting with a lone piper on the stadium roof was something to behold. The performance that followed from the Scotland team was quite incredible and they fully deserved the victory and the ovation that followed from the fans in the stadium. I’m sure a Saturday night in Edinburgh was enjoyed by all, regardless of which team we all followed.
That result opens the Six Nations up wonderfully and makes the next round of games even more crucial. Can Scotland get a result in Dublin and will England be able to up their game in Paris?! We’ll be there to cheer them both on…
- Ali R.
The excitement was starting to build ahead of this penultimate rugby packed weekend for the Six Nations 2018. The thought in most people’s mind - can Ireland keep their Grand Slam hopes alive ahead of this battle with the Scots?
George and Nikki arrived in a chilly Dublin on Thursday morning to check in with our hotels around the city and begin to welcome our early arrivals. Clare and I arrived on Friday evening to prepare for an influx of Scottish and Irish fans arriving at their chosen hotels. By this time, the atmosphere was already building and the banter between the Irish and Scots was in full flow.
On Saturday morning, match tickets were distributed and although it was an afternoon kick off, fans started to make their way over to the stadium early stopping at the various pubs en route – some choosing the door-to-door option to stay out the cold! At this point there was a sea of kilts and bagpipes filling the streets and contributing to a great build up - Scotland were out in full force!
The passionate Irish fans always ensure the Aviva Stadium has an incredible atmosphere, and with the game underway it was clear Ireland were looking to secure the Six Nations Championship a week early! A brace of tries for Ireland winger and ‘new kid on the block’ Jacob Stockdale, saw Scotland trail 14-3 at the interval despite a number of promising plays. With the second-half promising some great rugby, it was Ireland who put Scotland to the sword with two further tries and securing the valuable bonus point! Scotland proved valiant opponents scoring a second-half try of their own, however playing Ireland at home is proving to be one of the toughest challenges in world rugby. Final score, Ireland 28-8 Scotland.
No matter the result, all fans were in great spirits and headed toward the infamous Temple Bar area for a few pints of Guinness and to experience the brilliant live Irish music.
Four members of the Gullivers team headed up to Paris on the Wednesday night after work. Checking into St Pancras and boarding the Eurostar was especially exciting for one of our representatives as it was their first time travelling through the tunnel! After a relaxing journey preparing for Thursday's hotel checks, we soon arrived in the glorious French capital city. Thursday was a day of finalising plans for the team, split across Paris. We visited our wide range of our hotels we offer to check everything was in place for clients arriving the following day - we even stopped for food at Corcoran’s where our Gullivers Clubhouse was to be held the morning before the game.
Friday was when the large majority of our clients arrived and we were excited to see our adverts up all over the Eurostar terminal! We welcomed crowds at Gare du Nord and ensured everyone got to their coaches for their transfer to their hotel. Even the miserable weather could not dampen the mood of our clients; everyone was excited about the game tomorrow and feeling optimistic after England’s defeat at BT Murrayfield. Once everyone was checked-in into their hotels, clients had time to discover Paris and our staff enjoyed a lovely Parisian dinner.
Saturday - match day - is always my favourite day working on tour. We had our match ticket distributions at each of our hotels. It is always lovely meeting and chatting to clients in anticipation of the day's result and learning what they have already been up to in Paris. Once tickets and merchandise were handed out, some of us braved the steps up to Corcoran’s for our Gullivers Clubhouse whilst others took the relaxing ride up on the Funicular! Braving the steps for the second time, we set up the venue and ensured our clients knew where to go. The Clubhouse was hosted by our very own David Kurk, with special guests Ollie Philips and Simon Shaw. They both shared some friendly banter as well as their predictions of the game ahead, with Ollie having a very optimistic outlook believing England could not only win, but also get the bonus point...whereas Shawsy appeared apprehensive about the result in what promised to be a close game. Once the Q&A was over, many clients stopped back to watch Ireland win against Scotland before heading over to the Stade de France. Luckily the weather cleared up for the game, but unfortunately that wasn’t enough for England as they failed to deliver again.
On departure day, clients kept high spirits as it was a beautiful sunny last day. Many explored the city and some of Paris’ famous attractions,before being picked up from their hotel for their train home and saying their goodbyes at the station.
- Sofia G.
We arrived into Rome on Thursday afternoon ahead of the supporters. As the Scottish fans arrived alongside the team (who travelled with us on our charter flight), you could sense the anticipation for the match ahead. This was no longer a race for the wooden spoon, Italy were desperate for a win after losing every Six Nations home match since 2013. Meanwhile Scotland, still hopeful off the back of trailblazing wins against France and England, were playing for a possible second place finish. We transferred the supporters to their hotels located around the centre of Rome to enjoy their first evening in the beautiful city.
An early start on Friday ensured that all our staff were ready for ticket distribution at each hotel. It was lovely being able to talk to our clients and find out their plans for the rest of the day in Rome. We had some time free to explore the city ourselves and catch a glimpse of the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum. We sampled some delicious gelato on the way back to meeting our clients on the two-night package. After transferring and assisting with check-in at their hotels, we enjoyed an evening to enjoy traditional Italian food.
Game day had arrived and fans were eagerly awaiting the match as we met them to deliver their game tickets and exclusive half-and-half Gullivers match scarf. Many had plans to see the famous sights of Rome and those who had upgraded their package to include the Clubhouse event made their way to the event. With the venue full, supporters were treated to an appearance from Gavin Hastings and Carlo Festuccia as they talked about their thoughts on the upcoming match and their tips for future stars to watch out for in future Six Nations. After making our way to Stadio Olympico, all spectators were buzzing with excitement. The walkway towards the stadium was lined with fans wearing kilts and playing bagpipes as well as Italian fans dressed as roman soldiers and donning green, white and red. It was fair to say that everyone was eager for the game to begin. After a tumultuous rendition of Flower of Scotland by our Scottish supporters, the game kicked off.
Italy began the game with a fast attack on Scotland, giving them a 3-0 lead. Minutes later, Scotland launched their attack in retaliation as Fraser Brown secured Scotland their first try. Two more tries and conversions from Italy, followed by Barclay’s try and a masterful conversion, meant that at half time the score was Italy 17–12 Scotland. Fans began to worry about the strength of the Scottish defence after the fiery Italian attack. Italy began their second half strong, scoring another try and conversion within the first six minutes. But as Scotland slowly applied more pressure, the Italians were clearly tiring. A long rolling maul eventually delivered a try and conversion but Italy’s penalty kick put them one point ahead. With four minutes left to play, the whole stadium was on edge. Scotland got a penalty advantage 37m out, but Laidlaw didn’t disappoint and Scotland hung on to their lead to secure their victory against Italy, 27-29. We left the stadium to tremendous victory chants from the Scottish side as we made our way back to the city centre for the evening to celebrate the win and catch a glimpse of the final Six Nation fixtures.
An early morning transfer back to the airport was sweetened by the previous night’s victory as players and supporters checked in to their flight back to Edinburgh. Supporters left with beaming smiles after an overall outstanding Six Nations performance which resulted in Scotland finishing third, behind Wales and Grand Slam winners, Ireland.
- Amy C.
We headed down to Cardiff for the last Six Nations game of 2018 to see Wales play France on super Saturday. Cardiff is always such a great atmosphere on game day; even when we arrived early morning on Saturday to check out a few of our hotels, you could already spot armies of daffodils, welsh dragons, sheep costumes and even someone dressed as a leek! Our first stop was at the Ibis Hotel, visiting clients and handing out our half-and-half scarfs, French fans in particular took a liking to them. We then made our way to Hotel Indigo, noticing en route the visiting fans were also making themselves known and the streets of the Welsh capital were buzzing!
Arriving early at Principality Stadium to watch the second half of the Ireland v England game, excitement levels were already high after the 24-15 win for Ireland, Wales were now fighting it out for runners up of this year’s Six Nations. The game got off to a quick start, with France getting the first penalty of match just minutes in, soon after giving the ball to Wales for Williams to score the first try followed by two Halfpenny penalties. The first half continued to excite the fans and the half-time score was 14-10 for Wales. Soon into the second half France won a penalty which was the last score of the game, Wales did well to hold up their defence throughout the second half and the tension could definitely be felt amongst the home fans during the last 10 minutes when the French continued to attack strong.
Saturday evening was enjoyed by all supporters, celebrating both the game and Paddy’s Day!
- Sofia G.