- Assistant Coach, Graham Smith, takes us behind the scenes as England Women prepare for August's World Cup
- No rest for the wicked as the girls head to Surrey Sports Park for more training
Photo: RFU Archive
With just weeks to go now until the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010, England’s training regime is in full swing.
The England squad are meeting up every week, at various venues across the country, and England Assistant Coach, Graham Smith, will be giving RFU.com a unique insight into how the host nation’s preparations are going.
Day One – Surrey Sports Park, Guildford
For our third pre-world cup training camp we are based at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford, the pool games venue for the actual world cup and also the athlete village for the tournament.
Spending a week here is obviously very useful as it gives us the opportunity to test the facilities, the accommodation and logistically practice what it will actually be like during the tournament. This is a brand new multi million pound facility; it has two new state of the art rugby pitches costing around £1.5 million but guess what the players get most excited about? The onsite Starbucks, coupled with a huge sun balcony!
The accommodation is student accommodation, but this is good student accommodation. We all have our own rooms, which are en-suite and there’s a communal kitchen/diner.
Photo: RFU Archive
I’m even impressed with the sound proofing as for once I can’t hear Streety (Gary Street) starting up the midnight tractor (he snores very loudly) or Barney (Mike Barnett) and Davo’s (Dave Gardener) late night discussion group (helped along by a few glasses of wine).
We had a squad meeting in the afternoon and were joined by a very special guest – England Team Manager Martin Johnson. There were a few gasps and some jaws dropped.
He is an icon in our game and he has an aura that the players respect. He was very calm and clinical in speaking to the players about his world cup experiences. We then went out on to the pitch for training. The session was based around physicality and continuity, the players were excitable but they soon switched on and focused on the job in hand.
Day Two – Surrey Sports Park, Guildford
It’s back to training again now and this morning the forwards and backs split before Bill Beswick, a leading sports physiologist, presented a seminar on ‘managing expectations’. Once again he was a big hit with his engaging stories and he again demonstrated his huge knowledge and experience of top level sport.
In the afternoon we had a team play session to emphasise our basic game plan and it went well. All in all it was a good day. Mind you, the work doesn't stop for the staff as we had to check out some of the local drinking establishments, purely for research reasons I would like to stress. We were tasked with finding meeting places for players’ friends and supporters during the world cup!
Day Three – Surrey Sports Park, Guildford
Photo: RFU Archive
Today was game simulation day so we had a number of activities to check out to see if they would work during the world cup, including new warm-up, stay warm and cooling down techniques.
This included ice vests for half time and foil space suits for replacements after warm-up. The players looked bizarre, but seemed to like it.
After such a busy day, everyone was given the evening off and the players did their own things with some of them heading into Guildford for dinner.
Emily Scarratt attracted a local admirer, but I think his chat up lines need improving as being told she had huge shoulders didn’t really work for her!
Day Four – Surrey Sports Park, Guildford
After breakfast the players had to undergo weights, video analysis and medical treatments. We also looked at some of our game play and training footage to see how we are adapting to the game plan and transition play.
After lunch, and as it’s a Sunday, the players had the afternoon off and went on a river barge trip.
Day Five – Surrey Sports Park, Guildford
We had another guest with us today as England Coach Graham Rowntree popped over. He joined our team to shadow the staff and to look at how we organise and prepare the players.
There seemed to be a bit of Monday morning blues around the camp today but when the players got into training they were back on it. The session went well and we worked on our slow ball and dead ball policy.
In the afternoon Streety ran a handling and running session, working on our shape and structure and how we can utilise our support and waves of attack. It was another good session with all the players showing how comfortable they are on the ball.
In the evening Catherine Spencer, Streety and Nicky Ponsford are allowed out to attend a swanky House of Commons World Cup Dinner where they are joined by Rob Andrew and John Steele, the new CEO of the RFU. How very posh!
Day Six – Surrey Sports Park, Guildford
Photo: RFU Archive
It was Toughen Up Tuesday today and we were joined by a number of the RFU Council members who were viewing the world cup facilities and watching our morning training.
The players were also joined by Mike Bushell from BBC Saturday Breakfast who is doing some filming with us.
Mike joined in with the running and handling session and coped well.
Then we did a bit more contact work, and the girls decided he should partner 'Maggie the Machine' (Maggie Alphonsi) for a bit of wrestling.
As Mags is a nice girl, and a bit of a media star (!) she let him off lightly…
Day Seven – Surrey Sports Park, Guildford
It was our last day in camp today and it has been a long one this time. We are all feeling tired and wanting to see our families but there is one more session to go. The players, however, put 100% effort in and deserved a hearty lunch. Next stop Loughborough University.