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A day in the life of England Sevens

28 September 2011

  • Cracknell and Rodwell take us behind the scenes in the England Sevens camp
  • Pool, pitch, gym and quizzes all part of a busy build-up for Ben Ryan's men
Chris Cracknell, Dan Norton and Rob Vickerman listen in

Photo: RFU Archive

England Sevens are five weeks into their pre-season training programme as they build up to the start of the HSBC Sevens World Series. Full-time sevens players James Rodwell and Chris Cracknell take us through a typical day training at the Lensbury Club and Twickenham Stadium under coaches Ben Ryan and Russell Earnshaw.

7.30am Pool session
Rodwell: The alarm is set for 7am for a 7.30am pool session. This morning it was 20 lengths and then 10 underwater lengths, which is a nice wake-up call. The stuff in the pool is a loosener and gets the body working but it’s turning into a fitness session now since we have had Karen Pickering doing a few sessions with us. Our physio Brett (Davison) has got some bad ideas from her. Some of the lads struggle with it, like Dan Norton! Greg Barden or Chris Cracknell are probably the best swimmers.

8am Breakfast
Cracknell: Food is straight after swimming. There’s usually a free-for-all for poached eggs then some coffee. A few of the boys have a little bit of bacon. It is mostly healthy stuff.

8.15-10am Medical room opens for treatments and physio

10.30am Rugby
Rodwell: We have a little breather before the first rugby session at about half-ten. More recently we’ve been doing double rugby sessions on a Tuesday.
Cracknell: It’s full on, battering us really.
Rodwell: It starts off with a bit of grab, a bit of tackling on pads and then the pads get thrown away.
Cracknell: Then the backs get clever and start running round the forwards. Then the forwards get angry.
Rodwell: It takes about an hour, including the warm-up. Then we go straight to lunch for another feed and get the energy levels back up.

Ben Ryan's boys relax between sessions

Photo: RFU Archive

12pm Extras – lineout throwing
Rodwell: There are extra sessions thrown in for kickers, throwers and so on. Today it was throwers (with RFU coach Simon Hardy) with Mathew Turner, John Brake and Sam Edgerley. They haven’t got to the level for the forwards to be out there yet.
Cracknell: Others do extras at the end of the session, receiving kick-offs for example, and we’ll soon start walking through our lineouts and so on.

12.30 Lunch
Cracknell: Are you just talking to me about food because I’m fat? Tuesday is a gnocchi and fish day, last night it was steak in the evening. The food here is good. Standard rugby meals, really.

2.30pm Rugby or Weights
Rodwell: Today it’s more of the same on the pitch with defence work and tackling. Other days we may do a weights session in the gym at Twickenham. It varies between circuits as a full squad or split into units. The ethos is good – we’re in it as a group and working hard. Then it’s off down the Anglers for the quiz...

Dan Norton in the gym at Twickenham

Photo: RFU Archive

4-5.30 Medical room open
Rodwell: If you need a treatment you can go along to Brett or Rich (masseur Richard Wegrzyk). It’s about self-monitoring really.

6pm Dinner

7pm Team Activity – Quiz at The Anglers, Teddington
Cracknell: Rodders and [Rob] Vickerman are the quiz ‘nauses’. Vicks has started watching Pointless (on BBC1) to test himself. We room together and he gets the pen and paper out to get the scores down.  It’s good to do something as a team together. It’s moved on from us just being here and training and sleeping. For us, it’s important to do stuff together off the field, building a team, so on Monday nights we try and do something together – maybe go out for a meal – although last week we had another quiz!
Rodwell: Simon Hunt did the Monday quiz. He’s definitely got a future as a Family Fortunes host.

10-10.30pm Lights out.
Rodwell: After a full day’s training we sleep pretty well. It’s never nice when the alarm goes off again, though!