My thoughts and time here so far
I have enjoyed every minute of the programme so far, event though it’s been the most intense pre-season I have ever done. The standards on and off the pitch that we get held to, have really helped me to improve my standards on and off the pitch. Having amazing facilities is definitely something I appreciate, a pool, 2 very up to date gyms, an indoor training pitch, several outdoor pitches and a players lounge with pool table. The food is also really good and nutritious helping me put weight and muscle on despite the intense training. All the facilities we need to help better ourselves.
I faced a minor setback in week 3 when I chipped a bone in my wrist, I am back training at full strength now which I am really glad of. Training in the 30o+ heat is very hard (not quite like training at sunny Selkirk), thankfully it’s becoming cooler now approaching ‘winter’ (who would’ve thought a Scot would complain about the heat).
We got to watch Stellenbosch University play, below is a photo of their very scenic pitch.
The contents of the programme so far
As I said before, it’s the most intense pre-season I have ever done. Our pre-season has been split into three blocks; block 1 was 3 and half weeks, block 2 was 2 and a half weeks and block 3 will be 3 and a half weeks. Below is what a normal week would look like.
I’ve particularly enjoyed the sessions before breakfast on Tuesday and Thursdays as I feel I can really try and fine tune my skills. At the end of the first 2 blocks we would have what they called a game changer session. This would consist of two forty minutes with a short half time in between the two forty’s. In each forty minute session you would be going as hard as you can, pulling sledges, doing shuttles and lifting weights. Our Tuesday and Thursday 9 o’clock sessions would be our hardest ones. Tuesdays having a more contact based focus and Thursday having a more running based focus ‘chasing the meters’. These sessions are made hard by the runs and crawls we have to do between doing our rugby flow and shape. We are almost at the end of our pre-season and have a game on Wednesday 6th April to finish the pre-season. I can’t wait to play and I’m very excited to play Hamilton U20’s, the oldest club in the country. Hopefully all the hard work pays off.
It’s not all be rugby, here is a photo of a team 8k run, it was tipping it down but at least the rain was warm.
How I’ve benefited so far and what I still need to work on
I have benefited massively so far and can feel improvements already. My weight has increased from 93-96kg, which I am very happy about. My fitness has definitely improved from the week 1 baseline fitness testing. Even though we haven’t tested again, I am feeling a lot fitter. I’m looking forward to the next testing after the break. My spin pass on my left hand has got a lot better thanks to the expertise of the scrum half/backs coach Ian Campbell. I have also really benefited from the mental sessions on a Wednesday. These help me understand the mental side of the game and how body language and attitude can affect performance. I definitely feel this has helped my confidence a lot on the pitch.
I would say I still need to work on the mental side, to try and have more confidence going into games. Definitely keep trying to put on muscle and work on dominance in attack and defence. Keep working on decision making in and around the ruck, whether to go in or leave it. I believe these are all things that I can continue working on and improve, as we have all the facilities and staff here to do so.
Below is a photo of where we train, I feel very fortunate to train with a view like that.