So, last weekend I drove up to San Francisco to attend Alex William's Rugby Camp, and it was absolutely amazing! The drive was very relaxing and I was jamming out to awesome music the whole time thanks to my wonderful new iPod charger/radio adapter gadget...had a lunch break with one of my best friends out in LA and rolled on up to the hippie city via the inland (and hot) route. I must say that it was very therapeutic to just chill and take in the scenery while partaking in some very cool drive-dancing and singing at the top of my lungs. The best thing about the trip is that my car actually made it up, albeit with many a squeaky start-up.
Thursday night I arrived at my friends' house and brought them tasty beverages in exchange for the pad to crash in...the apartment was located right in the city and was the perfect place to be as it was only 10-15 minutes from Treasure Island.
Friday was the first day of camp, and I was surprised to find that there were only about 20 people there to train. While at first this seemed to be a bad thing, I later realized that it meant much more personal attention from coaches who see so many details about positioning, technique, and form in set pieces and open play. As you can imagine, this was a very humbling camp...every drill we did, the coaching staff broke down what we were doing wrong, what we were supposed to be doing and how to fix it. I really think everyone who was there agrees that any rugby player from rookie up to eagles can improve their game in so many ways. After the first day of camp, I headed back to the city, grabbed a sandwich and headed over to some other friends' house for dessert.
Saturday I woke up surprisingly sore and a bit tired, but excited to get into scrummaging later that day. I wanted to try out prop a bit to see if I could figure it out, and let me just say I have a great appreciation of prop forwards now, and so does my neck. So many little things contribute to the making of a good prop...and being a flanker who's used to just pounding people and capitalizing on excess aggression, I found it very challenging to be so disciplined with technique. Basically us forwards worked a lot on body awareness and "deforming" our opponent while preventing them from doing the same to us. Some major points were: CORE STRENGTH, arm position elbow down, head up, looking over the sunglasses, feet underneath you, loaded like a spring...core strength again. P.S. Liz Kirk is awesome!
Needless to say, my Saturday night was not eventful...in fact I ate some pasta and passed out at about 7:30pm. Very sad, I know, but I really didn't care at that point. Sunday morning, I woke up not excited to scrum, but excited for the rest of camp. We finished up the camp with a lot of good knowledge about laws, agility, lineouts, and all things rugby. I hurried to see the Golden Gate bridge before leaving town, said bye to my friends and then adios to SF via the 101 South. I took the scenic route so I could chill with some of my So-Cal teammates in Santa Barbara, which was a very good life choice. Let's just say SB is famous for great breakfast burritoes, giants who are going to New Zealand, super hot 7's uniforms, and memories of the Hot Jamz van. I left Monday morning a bit refreshed, and ready to get back to work in SD...very thankful for the opportunity to train with such great coaching staff all weekend.
In fact, even though the camp was called an Introduction to Rugby, I felt it to be advanced in the fact that it made me look at my total game, deconstruct every part, and evaluate a way to fit the pieces together more effectively and with a better understanding of the game. I came away analyzing my various basic skill levels, defensive and offensive awareness, positional skills, game knowledge, mental preparation, fitness regimen, nutrition plan, and recovery habits - and really taking a look at what I need to improve in each of these areas to become a better player. The list is very long, but it is much easier to improve small things in each area with specific goal-setting than it is to just say I want to be better. I liken it to saving money. You can't just sock away $10 grand...you have to save a bit every month to get there in a period of time. In much the same way, I need to work on my game in every area a little bit each day and it will all add up. Sorry for that...sometimes I feel the need to give myself pep-talks publicly apparently.
Oh yeah, 2 days till New Zealand - wow.