This Event is somewhat unusual, amongst the many press releases I get the lovely people at Premiership Rugby I had a media invitation from Harlequins. A chance to go and watch them train at the Surrey Sports Park and be amongst the first to lay eyes on the new shirt.
He very kindly lined up Joe Gray and George Lowe for me, more of that later.
I plugged the advised postcode into my Satnav and ended up at a loading bay for a hospital! I’m glad to say a local who stopped near me was able to point me in the right direction.
The Surrey Sports Park is a very impressive and more to the point, big facility. Luckily I met Callum as I was wandering around aimlessly, he drove me along with a couple of camera men down to the area where Quins were training.
The squad were spread across 2 rugby pitches and broken down into groups with the play makers in the form of the Fly Halves including Nick Evans and Ben Botica on the top field and the rest in groupings largely dependent on their positions.
One thing that struck me were the sheer numbers, they were wearing as you can see fluorescent training tops, and very nice they were too! Considering there were players missing on international duty the bottom pitch was a sea of green.
I understand that this session was more light hearted than a standard day, but it was good to see the rapport between the players, there was a fair amount of laughter especially when Tom Williams, now in coach mode, had a line of backs to catch a tennis ball fired off from a racquet.
I believe there is a method to the madness, but they certainly had a lot of fun too! Towards the end of the session a group made up of both backs and forwards ‘played’ with the tennis ball for the sake of it, this is clearly a group of men who enjoy each others company – again there was a lot of laughter.
One group that really interested me were the front 5, they were working away in the corner, specifically on holding up the man with the ball. It was amazing to see close up and understand just how much strength but also how much technique is involved on preventing the man going to ground.
Adam Jones newly signed was amongst this group and he was listening just as intently as the two lads of 18 and 19.
The group moved to practice lifting the man in the lineout, again it was interesting to confirm just how much work goes into perfecting things.
I moved up to watch the kickers, again it was good to see the more experienced players working with the younger ones. As ball after ball was kicked to gain the precision needed during the 80 minutes of a game.
With the session coming to an end I had an ‘interview with Joe followed by George – those will follow at another time.
Another thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, polished off by being able to watch my nephew train with the Quins Under 18’s. Very discreetly of course, but he did spot me in the end and come over and give me a hug from his 6ft 4ish – that involved a lot of bending down on his part.
It was funny to see Marland Yarde on this contraption as I was heading to my car, and very good of him to pose for a photo! Really nice people on the whole rugby people!