Letter from America – Tuesday 7th June 2016
Tuesday saw the team settle further into their ‘R&R’ time at Pinehaven camping resort. With a contingent taking some time out for a day and a night away in Atlantic City, the camp was a little quieter with a very relaxed vibe. The sun was shining early doors and after a 48 hours off the rugby pitch the team naturally were keen to get active! We headed down to the bay in Ocean City and descended onto the watersports scene. The group split down half and half with the adrenaline junkies opting for the jet skis and those looking for a more chilled out day hiring a catamaran. After the extended safety briefs we were ready to hit the water. With our military ID we received an extra 15 minutes each on the jet skis and we used that to the max. Dani Phan in particular was noted for her speed and we all managed to hit a top speed of around 45mph!! Whilst on the water the jet skiers drove by the catamarans, with the crew members having a lovely time eating a picnic onboard. An epic day on the water! For our last night in New Jersey, the Atlantic City contingent were getting stuck into the ‘Vegas of the East Coast’. Back at the resort the remainder had a very relaxed FEAST of a BBQ around the campfire.
Wednesday 8th June
Today was the day we travelled back to new york, leaving the chalets behind ready for the finer things in life. We travelled for a few hours to then train and loosen the legs off. We were given our daily weather report by Sarah Batley but her timings were slightly out…it poured throughout training and we got soaked.
I don’t think the Sheraton Hotel in Brooklyn has ever seen 42 drowned rats with minimal morale in their reception before, so who were we to disappoint.
Quick shower and change and we were ready to hit the city.
We found the subway and courtesy of our travel guide Carina Reeves, we were ticketed up and on our way. We were doing well adjusting to the space on the subway and working out our route and stops. We finally arrived and got off of the train, only to find some of the team had failed to exit. With a confused wave and mouthed goodbye we watched them leave and walked to find our next place, the Ellen Stardust Cafe. So this place is a proper American diner, proper American food and last but not least- proper American entertainment. Being close to broadway there is obviously a lot of interest in performing and if you hadn’t quite had the break you needed to be hired for a show, you worked at Ellens!! We waited for over half an hour for the rest of the trainspotters to turn up and once in we took over the diner.
It was supposed to be them performing to us but it turned out to be more of a karaoke bar for us and we gave them our best show songs. The music was amazing, the food was amazing and the company was at its best. After entertaining the crowd and gaining some judgemental looks we decided it was time to leave and went to times square. If you think Blackpool Illuminations were impressive, they have nothing on times square. We sat on the steps and watched everyone as they carried on with their crazy, different and somewhat interesting lives until it was time to go.
A fantastic end to a wet and testing day!
Thursday 9th June,
Today the Army women’s rugby team pulled on a different kind of shirt, a shirt that unites us off the field, our uniform!
After a full set of formal orders from resident weather girl LCpl Sarah Batley, the team were on the subway making their way to ground zero, The 9/11 Memorial.
The atmosphere across the whole site was sombre and each one of us could feel it, as we looked on where once stood the iconc Twin towers of the World Trade Centre. The museum was spectacularly presented and there was many teary eyes were amongst the team. Overall a very moving and poignant experience.
After a quick dart back to the hotel for a change parade, we were let loose in the big apple for some eagerly anticipated sight seeing.
We started with Brooklyn Bridge, then made our way to see the famous Statue of Liberty from the shore. After a short subway journey we arrived at Central Park, where we figured it would be rude not to hire some bicycles and see as much of the park as possible, it was beautiful! Our surroundings almost made us forget that we were smack bang in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world!
A few blocks down was the Rockefeller centre. We managed to get a military discounted entry to the ‘top of the rock’ tourist attraction, and it did not disappoint! Absolutely phenomenal views from the top of the skyscraper looking on to the Empire State Building and the rest of the city. A little windy but never too windy for a good selfie! (Many selfies were taken).
Times Square was next on the ‘to do’ list, the hustle and bustle was overwhelming, 360 degrees of NYC in its full glory!
What better way to top off an astounding day than to buy a premium seat on the famous Broadway show ‘Chicago’?
Thousands of steps were accumulated on our adventures today, it was now time to rest our heads to prepare for another day of training in the morning in preparation for the Liberty Cup.
Friday 10th June – LCpl Stacey Alcock
This morning saw a sleepy team wake up to begin a training day in preparation for the Liberty Cup tomorrow- After many coffees being consumed at the hotel we began our journey to the training park.
The session consisted of breaking down into our respective sevens and fifteens teams for tomorrow, followed by both teams getting used to the different combinations and game plan for the Liberty Cup. Despite a lot of tired legs after a day of exploring New York City, all players performed well in training and were fully rewarded with an afternoon of ‘skipper’s disposal’. The focus now was on nutrition, hydration and mental preparation for the challenge ahead.
As a newcomer to the Army Senior squad, and recently coming back from injury, it is safe to say that I am 100% more confident than I was on arrival in the USA, which is thanks to all the team and coaching staff. All their positivity and encouragement has helped me get back in the saddle, and I am definitely up for the challenge that playing tomorrow will bring.
Finally, the team hit the local eateries for a pre-match carb-load, to ensure we have the energy required to perform to our high expectations tomorrow. With that, and making sure our fancy dress is good to go for the after-match festivities, we hit the sack for some well-earnt rest!