‘When’s my rugby tour?’

Next summer, just after his GCSEs, my younger son is going on a rugby tour with school. The rugby tour will be a brilliant, life-changing experience. He will play rugby, of course, but will also experience different cultures. He will be staying in both hotels and with local families. He will get to do some charity work and see some incredible wildlife. It’s the kind of experience he will remember for the rest of his life.

It’s also a very expensive experience.

I’ll admit, when I heard the cost, I was shocked. Of course it’s reasonable value for what it actually is. But it’s still a lot of money. It’s not the sort of money ordinary families have to spare. But there aren’t that many ‘ordinary families’ at his school. I got the impression the whole rugby team would be going. I wasn’t going to let my son miss out on that. He has agreed to make a contribution to the cost and will go without birthday and Christmas presents next year.

But it turns out maybe there are more ‘ordinary families’ at his school than the school had realised. There are less people going on the rugby tour than usual, no doubt put off by the extortionate cost. My husband is questioning whether we’ve done the right thing by signing him up for it, but I still think we have. He will never get another chance like that again.

But the problem with chances like that is that my other kids haven’t had them. My eldest was never offered a trip like that at his old school. In the past, the 6th form of his current school had always had a trip to Washington. We’d told him he could go. But the trip didn’t run.

Over half term, my daughter kept talking about a school ski trip that some of her friends had gone on. The discussions ended with ‘I wish I’d gone on the ski trip’. But she’d never told us about it, expressed an interest in going or even brought a letter home.

Now a letter has come home for next year’s ski trip. In the light of the rugby tour, it’s only fair that she goes.

‘This can be your rugby tour.’

But of course we can’t afford a ski trip AND a rugby tour in the same year, so she will probably have to go the following year, when she is in year 10.

Then my eldest pipes up: ‘When’s my rugby tour?’.

This is a very good question. He is leaving school soon and has clearly missed out on his ‘rugby tour’.

When kids are little it is very easy to treat them fairly. If you buy one of them a bike for Christmas when they’re four, you can buy the other one a bike for Christmas when they’re four. If one of them has a magician for their birthday party when they’re six, the others can have a magician for their birthday party when their six.

But when they are teenagers, things change. They have different interests and different opportunities. There was no rugby tour for my eldest and, even if there was, he wouldn’t have gone. Because he didn’t play rugby for the school. There was no equivalent exciting trip available to him.

I’m aware that my eldest isn’t going to university and his siblings probably will. That’s another load of parental spending he’s going to miss out on.

His ‘rugby tour’ will remain at the back of my mind until the time is right. Maybe we will make a contribution to him going on holiday, maybe we will help him out with a deposit on a house or a car instead of paying for university.

We might not treat them all exactly the same because they are different people, but we can still treat them fairly.

Money, Cash, Parenting, 'When's my rugby tour?'



Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I understand this and was going to suggest the conclusion that you came up with at the end. I think it all comes out in the wash really. We offered all of ours the chance to go on the school ski trip and they’ve all been (separate years). Beyond that, if they wanted to go on another trip, they’ve had to pay for that themselves (a large chunk of it at least). As far as university goes, it’s a difficult one because it isn’t for everyone but they are all given the same opportunity. I guess you can find some other way of helping your eldest out at a later date (there’s always something they need money for!).

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    • Hopefully it will all even out, more or less. Unfortunately my eldest is one for calculating the cost of things and speaking up when he thinks we are being ‘unfair’ to him. The other two wouldn’t even notice if we were being ‘unfair’. University isn’t the right thing for him at all and I’m sure he’s chosen the right path for himself – and no doubt we will be helping him out at some point!

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  2. It sounds like an amazing trip and the experience would be wonderful for him but I dread to think how much it would cost. Eek!
    It is hard to treat them the same when they are older especially if an opportunity comes up for a younger child which wasn’t there when the older one was that age.
    A deposit on a hour or car sounds like a great idea x

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    • Thanks very much, it is really hard to treat them the same because the truth is they don’t want to be treated the same! As my kids have all been at different secondary schools that’s even harder, as there are different opportunities available at the different schools. I am sure we will find a solution for him in the end. x

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  3. Sarah,

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
    One possibility would be to set an annual budget for special experiences, and let the kids participate in making a plan for which of them, if any, would get a special experience in 2019, 2020, 2021… The plan would have to be flexible, so as to cope with the unexpected.
    Some of those “ordinary families” may be going into debt to pay the “extortionate cost” of the rugby tour. If so, I’d say the school has set its sights too high.

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    • The plan is a really good idea!
      There are very few ‘ordinary families’ at my son’s school. It’s a highly selective grammar school and there is a very high proportion of doctors among the parents. Some kids go on every school trip available – France, Spain, Germany, the ski trip every year… The school has been running the trip for something crazy like 30 years (my own brother-in-law went on it!) and has always had lots of takers among its wealthy families.

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  4. I’m assuming he’s going to South Africa. Our eldest had trips away with army cadets, the next one went on a skiing trip that he paid for himself, the next one did football camps and the youngest had no school trips other than weekends out of boarding with his friends, London, Stratford etc. we’ve contributed equally to 2 of the weddings, but in general they’ve had what they’ve had when it was needed. Your eldest had driving lessons and insurance on your car, you may not automatically do the same for the younger two, especially if they go to uni

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    • Yes, it’s South Africa! The trip sounds incredible. He’s already had two German exchanges and a five day trip to Germany, whereas his brother just had one French exchange. But his brother has had quite a few weekends away with just his dad and he hasn’t had any. They might not be expensive, but they’re special.
      We’ve already decided all of the kids would have driving lessons and car insurance. Part of the reason I’m keen to get my eldest back on the insurance is because it would be unfair on him if the younger two were to have insurance and he didn’t! It is a minefield.

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  5. It’s so difficult isn’t it? We’re really fussy about wider family members treating both of the girls the same because my sisters were treated differently by some members of their mum’s family and it has really created a tense relationship between the girls, even now they’re older. It is such a shame. I am sure that yours will see that they are being treated equally even if they’re not getting the same things at the same time. Everyone is different and we all need different things.

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    • Thanks very much, I’m sure they will understand in the end. My eldest always has a tendency to think he is being treated unfairly, but he is the only one of the kids to have had several weekends away on his own with my husband! That must have been really tough for your sisters. I think there are wider family members who prefer seem to prefer one or two of my kids, but they all get treated fairly in terms of presents etc. x

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