Last Monday the Wallabies held open training at The Southport School. I grabbed the family and we drove around the corner and joined the couple of thousand other fans watching the Wallabies play a bit of touch rugby then sign autographs for an hour.
But this started me thinking.
Why couldn’t I just rock up to one of the regular training sessions and see what really goes on. I found out that they were training most days at The Southport School at 10 am so I organised a day off work and trotted down to the school just in time to see the warm up.
Then just like any rugby club training I have ever seen the forwards and the backs split up. The backs ran off to run moves and play touch footy while the forwards came over to where I had parked the car and set up for a live scrum session. As any old prop will tell you I had hit the jackpot. I could feel little shivers run down my spine I was so excited. I kept waiting for someone to shoo me away but they seemed used to random old rugby fans rocking up to training.
I must stress that my trip to practice was a personal thing and I was not there representing Green and Gold Rugby. I did not take any photos, I also did not attend the press conferences after training and I didn’t even think to take any notes until half way through the session. I might also stress that if I had written this last week I would look like a genius. Now I’ll just look like Gagger or Moses on a bandwagon.
My observations –
Except for the iPads and the constant looking at their technique on said iPad it look just like any other training I have been to. Sure there were more coaches, Television cameras, Reporters, Photographers and the players were clearly better than average. But the basics are the same.
Technically I didn’t learn much. That’s not saying that technically they aren’t way beyond any level I ever achieved it’s just saying that I didn’t see what they did better than me. What I did learn is they put in a lot of work. The starting eight continuously packed against a combination of the other forwards for at least 30 minutes. Then they split up and packed for about another 15-20 minutes in different combinations. After the scrum session the team came together for a light team run.
My first note says “Pato runs a good scrum session”. He was in complete control the entire time. There was no language barrier. He new what he wanted to do and what he wanted to achieve.
Note two. “Slipper, Daley and TPN did not train with the main group”. TPN did a slow jog. He and Slipper did an easy recovery session with some high steps and a little jumping. Daley never got above a walk.
Note three. “There are way more then 40 guys here”. Spotted Albert Anae, Greg Holmes, Al Baxter, Chris Alcock and John Ulugia (I think). I didn’t check the backs. Everyone was in Wallaby gear except Holmes and Alnae.
Note four. “Drew Mitchell is running”. Some swerves and a few side steps. Good news. He looked pain free and wasn’t carrying his leg at all.
Note five. “Beale light run. Looks OK”. Beale looks good to go. No worries at all.
Note six. “Burgess hand looks OK”. Luke Burgess trained with no hindrance at all. Catching and passing as good as ever.
Note seven. “Nucifora doing a lot of coaching”. Nuci had a hand in running the backs training. He did a lot more than I expected.
Sharpe and Giteau were not as involved as I had expected and always ran as opposition. Sharpe in particular was asked about technicalities and was held in high regard. No one appeared to hold back anything. There were no State allegiances on show, everyone seemed to be working as a team.
I must say I had a wonderful time. I didn’t talk to anyone for those 2 hours. I sat in the winter sunshine and watched some great athletes at the top of their game work on the nuts and bolts of what they do best.