Training in the sun…

As mentioned in my last post, the sun came out today! It was hot before we left for training and after the bus ride to the training field the humidity was up and so was the temperature. Loads of sunscreen was applied to stave of sun burn and then out onto the training paddock. For me it started slowly as I attempted to loosen up the body after sleeping on the floor with my mattress for the last two nights. It is the only way that I can get some fan on me during the evening, so I sacrifice some comfort for some sleep!

Training at the new Philippine Sports Complex in Laguna.

The session was a good session. We started out with developing our attacking structures off phase play. It was good to get into the groove instinctively reacting to calls. It takes time to create combinations and develop timing and as the session went on things started to click. Balls went to hand in space and players attacked the gain line. After about 40 minutes we had a “half time break”. The boys were pretty hot and grateful to get into the shade for some respite.

During the 10 minutes, Chooky (team manager) and Damo (team physio) renewed a simmering rivalry. They contested a 100m sprint at Nomads with Chooky getting 20m head start and 50m swim with Chooky getting about 20m head start. Chooky won both events with just enough in an aging rugby body to hold off the determined younger man. This time it was on a track the length of the straightaway and Chooky only got 15m. The race was intense and at the end Chooky took by it a nose, leaving Damo to lick his wounds.

The session finished with game management run. Once again things started to fall into place. The forwards connected with the backs and the vibe around the group was great at the end of training. Unfortunately, the mood was immediately dampened as the heavens opened with a vengeance. The track around the field quickly flooded and we were trapped in the grand stand to keep dry.

After lunch the coaches gave the players the option of an afternoon off with an early training session in the morning or pushing through in the afternoon and getting a sleep-in tomorrow. The lads decided the afternoon off was the best option. We had a short team meeting about the code of conduct and how to talk to the media effectively. Then the forwards did lineouts, which as a lineout lifter tends to a be a lot of work and then R&R. The laptops came out, ping pong, playstation and movies were the distractions of choice.

It was great to have a rest and just hang out with everyone. I definitely found it really useful and I think a lot of the boys will be refreshed by getting some time off. Tomorrow we have an early training session and then it is off to play the Philippine Barbarians in a trial match. I am looking forward to getting back out on the pitch at ISM for the game.

Training camp

After hours of waiting, meal vouchers and entirely too long in Nagoya Airport, I finally made it to the Philippines just in time to make it to the GO Hotel for the opening team meeting of the A5N Training Camp. It was great to walk in and see all the boys. A couple of faces that I didn’t know, a couple who couldn’t make the Hong Kong series but mostly lads I saw only a month ago. The first night was relaxed and kit was handed out for the trip.

The next day we headed up for the Word of Life camp. The bus ride was much smoother in a nicer bus replete with tv and enough seats for everyone. We arrived at camp, got settled in and then it was time for work. The first day of training we started off with a new addition of boxing at training. This was first time working on focus mitts and it was a lot of fun connecting the mind and the body to complete combos and footwork. Catch pass, defense and then unit skills complete the training session.

That evening it was ‘net time with all the laptops, phones and iPads coming out. The boys sat around, talked to family and friends, and played ping pong and basketball. I struggled to stay awake, sleeping on the concrete for a bit. My goal was to make it past 10pm because I knew if I didn’t I would be awake ridiculously early. I barely made it to 10pm then I slept on with a mattress on the floor to take full advantage of the 2 fans in the bunkroom.

Day 2 of camp saw us head to the new training grounds in Laguna. The grounds were really nice and we had a good session. The focus was on starting to develop our game, with structures put in place. After training, it was back to the camp for lunch where we were introduced to cup stacking by assistant coach, Jared Hodges. Now the boys are training to get the quickest 3, 3, 3 time at camp with 1,000 pesos on the line. Cup stacking is difficult and frustrating to say the least. It is hilarious watching the lads get frustrated and restart in the quest for the quickest time.

The afternoon session was completed in the pouring rain. During our camp, there has been a typhoon sitting off the coast. It has kept the weather cool, but it brought with it the rains. It was a weird experience to be training in the warm rain. The session went well with some contact, tackle technique and lineouts for the forwards.

This morning I woke up and with the rain gone the sun has come out. It is going to be a hot training day for our last day at camp. It is going to be quite a different training day. I am glad that the weather was a little cooler, but today is the first day of training in real Pinoy weather, hot, sunny and humid.

The wait has just begun…

After only 6 weeks, I am back on a flight to the Philippines for the A5N Division 1 tournament. The trip consists of a training camp in Manila and a tournament in Korea. When I returned from my trip in April I wasn’t sure if I would be fit, but now that the trip has started I’m excited to be heading back.

20110525-002946.jpg
The hard part of being on tour is leaving behind family, especially when you leave on your daughter’s second birthday! Julie, Brynn and I went out for breakfast at Foster’s in Durham and had a great time. I miss my girls a lot when I leave and with the time difference it is hard to keep in touch.

As for the trip, it was always going to be long and irritating but if things could go wrong they have. A long delay in Detroit due to maintenance was extended by the flight crew running out legal work time. So we waited in the airport then on the plane. In all it was a 6 hour delay.

20110525-002957.jpg

When we arrived in Nagoya, we had to wait for medical crew to take someone off the plane who had gotten sick during the flight. I hope that everything works out ok. The silver lining of the delays is the plane that I arrived in Nagoya on is the same one that will depart for Manila. However true to form, we have been twice delayed at the gate. 20110525-003007.jpg
Hopefully, my next post will be about a successful arrival in Manila!