Monday, 18 August 2014

Week 7 & 8

Internship Life.
Week 7 & 8.
4.08.14 - 16.08.14

Ok, so after week 7 I decided to leave it a little longer before I blogged. The reason being that week 7 was pretty quiet. The main squad were away on training camp, living it up in France - the photos of the location look pretty incredible, whilst a few of us were still back in the UK at SSP training etc.
So the week mostly consisted of working with the grounded injured players, and also the Academy lads. The EPDG were also in throughout the week but I stuck with the other groups as I have more interaction with them throughout the rest of the year so figured it was the best use of my time.
So on the Monday of week 7 the squad had an event on at a local Hotel to go over team values for the year. Us interns didn't get to go, so to make the best use of our time Dick Steele, Henry a.k.a. Harry and I decided to have a go at fixing the broken ice bath (we made it a little better ... but still not fixed), deep clean the baths, and also deep clean the Hot Yoga pod. We also did a few other small bits and bobs but nothing major, just a few things to make our lives easier whilst we had the time.
Throughout the rest of the week the majority of our time was split between the Academy players and the injured players. It was very interesting to get some more focused time with both of these groups as you get some good insight into their mindset etc. For the injured players who stayed, they had both been injured for quite long periods, but they were very upbeat still and seemed to be happy enough to come in and graft away to make sure that when they make their respected comebacks they will be in the best shape they've ever been.
The Academy players are also very interesting as they are new to the scene having come through the EPDG, and they are all totally different when the senior players aren't around. They all seem to come out of their shell and be themselves a bit more, so you get to know them a little better once they've relaxed. This week also gave them a lot more time to work one-on-one with coaching staff so it was an opportunity to fine-tune their gym work and make sure they are doing things technically correct. This is very important at this level as it can help to improve the longevity of their careers.

Week 8.
The main squad returned to training on Tuesday, after spending Monday travelling back from training camp.
Tuesday and Wednesday followed much in the same pattern as before - consisting of Therapy, Strength & Speed, and rugby sessions also. The rugby sessions are very team based looking at patterns and set-piece a lot.
One thing that was interesting over these two days is how they treat injured players recovering from minor or major injuries after games. So for instance we had a couple of players who wouldn't be involved the following weekend at home against Pau, and some who would be. It may not sound very interesting to others, but for more it was good to see how and when they re-introduce them to all the different aspects of the week - weights, speed, rugby etc.
One thing that was pretty brutal this week was seeing one of the players go down with an injury in training. This player, who happens to be an avid reader of this blog and often gives me pointers which I very much appreciate, has been coming back from a previous injury, and has already recovered a couple of times over the course of the pre-season. He was looking very sharp - fast, strong and in good condition, and then all of a sudden ... Ping. Not good. You could see from his reaction, and the reactions of the players how much it means to have such a valued member of the squad go down.
When I went back into the sheds after training to sort a couple of bits, he was around and getting offered condolences by many players and coaching staff, and seeing him a bit shaken up was tough. I can't even begin to imagine how tough this is. I mean I've had injuries before, and I've had times where I've come back from one small niggle, to pick up another, and then another. Sometimes it just feels like everything is against you, and it's hard to break that mental attitude.
BUT - I have full faith that he will come back better than ever. And best of luck to you for your recovery from Dick, Henry and I - I know you're reading.
Thursday was a little different - we went down to Locker 27 in Weybridge for a weights and conditioning session. I think this was great for the players as it was a change of scenery, something fresh and offered different training to what they've been exposed to at SSP.
After the session at Locker, we went on to The Stoop for a rugby session. This session was open to the fans, and there were a fair number of people there to watch, mostly kids, but it's nice to see a decent turnout. The weather was very odd this day, it was glorious sunshine when we turned up, and then towards the end of training it decided to come down with torrential rain! Classic English weather! The players did their training, and then followed it up with some signings and photos etc with the fans.
Friday was a nice easy day for me. I was at The Stoop for the Captain's Run, and also got involved a little bit in the skills session for the players not involved in the Match 23. Got hit about on the pads a little but it was good to be involved. Henry was at SSP that day, working with Slim and the Academy, and then also with the 7s team in preparation for the World Club 7s at Twickenham over the weekend. Dick meanwhile was living it up in Budapest on a stag do ... likes taking time off that boy.

Saturday was a brand new experience for me - a home match day! The guys had a home game against Pau as part of their pre-season preparation, and I got to be involved as an intern. It's not as hands on as the 7s I did two weeks prior, as the coaches run on water as they can communicate any messages they need to get across. But my role was to help prepare any pre-game needs such as supplements, be available for warm ups and stretching, and then to prepare all the post-game supplements as well. Not very glamorous, but interesting to see the way players prepare at this level.
I wasn't really sure what to expect, but it seems very normal to them. I know that probably sounds very obvious, but it didn't really seem to phase anyone - it's just rugby. If that makes sense? I know from playing at a lower level you get guys who need different preparations - some are quiet and in their own little solace, some are laughing and joking, some are intense and focused, and some are just getting aggressive in their own ways.
The squad definitely seem very together for their goal this year - and that is great to see. The things that were talked about pre and post game seemed to be understood by everyone, and it seems everyone really wants to buy into what is happening.
The game itself wasn't anything special. Finishing 17-17. But it was a building block, and I think the true test of where we are ahead of competitive fixtures will be this weekend. We have an away fixture to finish off our pre-season fixture list.
I'm definitely feeling positive, and I think the players are too. Looks like it's going to be a good year and I can't wait to get involved.

Til' Next Time.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Week 6

Internship Life.
Week 6.
28.7.14 - 01.08.14

It's that time again - time for a catch up!
Last week followed very much in the footsteps of the week before in that it was very busy from start to finish of every single day. It followed a similar pattern as normal with Therapy, weights, conditioning, speed and rugby training.
Again, there were several different schedules going on, but this week it made a little more sense - for example the England Returnees would be running whilst the main group did rugby, and they'd all do weights at the same time just different sessions.
The biggest difference this week was the double days of rugby. Rugby is now in full swing and the guys are training most days, and it's normally twice a day. So by Friday a lot of the guys looked pretty knackered but its coming up to the first pre-season fixture now so it's important they get the work in as Quins play a good brand of rugby so plenty of training time is necessary.

Another interesting part of the week - especially for me - was the 7s. Quins sent a side up to Franklins Gardens in Northampton on Friday night for the Premiership 7s Series, and I was lucky enough to get to go along as an intern and provide assistance for the evening.
My role for the evening was basically to help out wherever I could, so I helped load the bus, unload the bus, prepare the water, prepare gatorade, make up protein shakes, make up any pre-game supplements the players wanted, help with the GPS units, help with warm up and stretching, and then my main role was running the water on during the games themselves. As it was being shown live on BT Sport this was pretty sweet.
Quins came away victorious, winning all 3 games. The guys put in a lot of hard work, and they were all pretty dead by the end of the 3rd game, but it was worth it I think as they now progress on to the next round. Joe Marchant, one of the ACAD lads who is on loan to Worthing Raiders this year (my hometown club) had an absolutely brilliant evening and came away with a bottle of bubbly as player of the tournament. But in all honesty - the entire squad played well.

This next week is another quieter one - the main squad are off on pre-season camp ending with their first pre-season fixture, so I will be in and around SSP helping out with the ACAD and the injured players who are staying home to continue their rehab/preparations.

Hopefully next week I should be able to go a little more in-depth on what we do with injured players or ACAD, just to mix things up a bit.

Thanks for reading.