Letters From America – Friday 3rd June 2016
So today is the second most important day of the week – the day before game day! After our usual morning routine of breakfast, physio and the Batley weather report, we made our way to the training pitch for our Captain’s run. As predicted by the weather report, it was a damp day – both wet and muggy … most of the squad’s shirts could be rung out at the training due to a mixture of both rain and sweat! HC Glyn announced the squad of 23 players to face the Avatus All Stars U23 National Collegiate team at the beginning of training, to allow those players to work together throughout the Captain’s run. Training was calm in nature, with backs and forwards splitting for the majority to allow a focus on nailing our set pieces, as we know as a squad that we are always able to capitalise on a solid foundation. We then came together for the last 20 minutes to run as a squad. There was a great buzz throughout the run, the general feeling across the squad is that we have just ‘clicked’. As a team that has been constantly building throughout the season, we have gelled to the point of being able to read the running lines of the players around us, which shows when we take to the paddock as our play just flows. With smiles on our faces, we returned to the hotel for a pool recovery session within our units. The backs providing the calm before the storm for Physio Lucie, who provided us with a quiz within the recovery session, whilst the forwards decided to determine winners through wrestling in the water!
With a couple of free hours in the afternoon, the majority of the squad decided to visit a nearby Outlet centre. With only 2 hours allocated within the Mall, it became a similar scene to Supermarket sweep. The whole squad bomb-bursting to the 4 corners of the Mall, acknowledging each other with a head nod when they past instead of wasting valuable shopping time by stopping to talk. Probably not quite the sort of relaxing afternoon the med team had in mind for us, but the smiles on the faces of every player who returned from the outlet centre with arms full of shopping meant they couldn’t bring themselves to be mad at us.
The day was completed with a team meal, an ARU(W) pre-game ritual, which usually turns into a competition to see who can successfully order and eat the most food – point to note, never underestimate the eating ability of a back! We may be ‘svelte’ but our appetite sure is might! Rugby, shopping, food – all in all, a pretty successful day State side!
Saturday 4th June
“HAPPY GAME DAY HEROES”
The ritual message sent by our team Captain every game day morning – always the best message to wake up too. As if you ever need reminding that it’s game day – it’s the one day of the week where you are guaranteed not to need an alarm clock to help you get out of bed; today we get to spend 80 minutes doing what we love. And to top it off … we get paid for doing it! #LIVINGTHEDREAM
Today’s game is important for a number of reasons;
1) It will be the last capped game for 3 senior members of the ARU(W) squad – Our Captain Jane Leonard, our Vice Captain Sarah ‘Huddy’ Mitchelson, and our speed demon Dani Phan.
2) It will be the last time we are led by our Captain and Vice Captain in a capped fixture.
3) It will allow us to continue our run of success, and allow us to complete our tour with 3 wins from 3 – No pressure!
With those thoughts in our minds, we were gathered together for our pre-game meeting where we were presented our shirts and another piece of ‘Leonard Crap’. This has become a tradition in Jane’s tenure as Captain; each capped game she has presented the players with a token or a gift that she thinks represents the game we are about to play – from hand written quotes to toy soldiers in sand-filled bottles – today we were given a dollar bill folded into a playing shirt, with the words “Passion Changes Everything”. That was her message to the squad today – take to the field with passion, because without it, we cannot create anything worth having. The pre-match talk was short and sweet, and held a simple message which consisted of a combination of her two biggest inspirations as a leader; the All Blacks and Muhammed Ali. From Muhammed Ali she quoted “Service you pay to others is the rent you pay for your place here on Earth” and from the All Blacks she recited their very famous philosophy “leave your shirt in a better place than you found it”. Today’s game is about something bigger than ourselves as individuals, we are making history, the first Army Women’s team to ever play a capped game in the USA. Today we set a standard, a mark in the sand for how far the Army Women’s squad has come, and how much more we can do.
Did we do that? Check out the match report to find out!
Sunday 5th- Travelling to Pine Haven
There was a few sore heads this morning as we aroused victorious once again having won 3 games from 3. Some were out celebrating until the early hours! Despite this we still had to be up bright and early to face the 2 hour drive to Pine Haven, New Jersey where we will be spending the next couple of days recuperating!
After a couple of stops for weak bladders and hangover thirsts we finally arrived at our destination! Our first impressions were “This looks like Band Camp!”
The site had a large man made lake with sand on the shore that made it look like a “Lake Beach!” It even had swings on the sand!
Next to this there were a couple of tandem bikes parked up that suddenly got exploited by the excited Army Rugby girls who decided to get on the bikes and race eachother around the camp! Let’s hope we made good impressions!
After unloading the vans and getting our keys to the cabins we finally got settled in. Our first trip was to the supermarket as we suddenly saw there was a bbq grill and a fire pit next to each cabin! We stocked up on bbq food, beer and fire wood.
Having stocked up the fridge some of us then went to test the man made lake and swim to the plastic whale that was floating in the distance. This soon got chaotic as five of us decided it was a good idea to climb on top of the plastic whale all at once! The whale soon capsized and sent us flying in different directions! We decided that wasn’t a good idea and headed back!
As the sun started to set, we started to set up the bbq and fire pit. The music started playing, the fire started burning, the food started cooking. The girls gathered around and we all had a lovely evening with plenty of food and beer! Pine Haven really is a great place!
Monday 6 June 16
First whole day of R&R and the beach seems to be on most people’s minds. After a morning workout around the lake a group of us went to Ocean City to Kayak around the estuaries. The sun was shining as we took to the water, although the strong head wind made it less of a leisurely paddle and more of an upstream struggle. We saw some turtles and plenty of birds and the weirdest crabs (horseshoe crabs apparently; looked more like rocks with a stingrays tail)!
We rested up on a “beach”, where Rob thought he would go off to explore. It wasn’t his best idea as he ended up falling into what we believe was a slurry/sewage ditch, not so good for Rob, hilarious for us! The way back should have been easier but the wind seemed to have whipped around so we continued our shoulder workout paddling back in.
We wandered into Ocean City and found a gem of a sandwich shop to reward our efforts! We met up with the girls from the beach with their stories of surfing and paddle boarding. Smiles and tan lines burnt on!