With the new RaboDirect PRO12 season now just a week away, the Ospreys have stepped up their preparations with a four-day 'old school' training camp in Cornwall.
The travelling party have been based at Sennan in Penzance, from where they have explored the county, taking part in a series of team-building activities and conditioning sessions, as well as taking part in an ‘opposed training session’ with Cornish Pirates RFC.
The trip was entirely funded by the players, who have undertaken a series of fund raising activities including a sale of old training kit at car boot sales, a guess the score competition ahead of the Wales V England test matches this month and organising a race night at Llandarcy Academy of Sport. Revenue raised was used to cover all costs during the camp, including food and drink, with all sleeping and catering arrangements having to be managed by the players.
Trevedra Farm Caravan and Camping site was HQ for the visit, which began on Monday with an organised treasure hunt en route from Ospreylia. The players travelled in groups, having to solve clues along the journey, providing photographic evidence of their detours to Somerset Cricket Club, Exeter Chiefs RFC, Dartmoor and Land’s End.
Following a welcome barbecue at the camp site on Monday evening, the squad enjoyed their first night under canvas before a gruelling schedule of conditioning work kicked off on Tuesday morning, that saw the players working in fields and on beaches around Cornwall as opposed to being confined to the gym.
Tuesday’s two sessions sandwiched a visit to Newquay, where the group took part in a three-hour coast steering session. Coast steering is a physical activity that sees individuals manoeuvring across coastal land through a combination of swimming, climbing and importantly, diving from cliffside into the sea.
Following an early morning conditioning session on Wednesday, a convoy set off for Marazion and St Michael’s Mount, where Mounts Bay Gig Club introduced them to gig rowing. Whilst it was a new experience for the group, they thoroughly enjoyed their time in traditional six-oared rowing boats.
Then it was off to Penwith College, where the squad participated in a full contact training session with the Cornish Pirates, who lost out to Worcester in the Aviva Premiership promotion play-off in May, before watching a rugby league match between Cornwall and Devon at the Pirates' Mennaye Field home.
Thursday then saw another early start for conditioning work ahead of a last lunch together at Trevedra, before the five-hour journey home got underway.
Ospreys Head Coach, Sean Holley, said that the week had been a great success for everyone:
“We wanted to take the team away from their day-to-day environment and go somewhere that they had to fend for themselves, work hard, and importantly, work as a team, helping each other. That started weeks ago, with the effort that they put into fund raising, to make the trip viable. It’s about developing that old-school rugby club environment, the camaraderie that helps teams to succeed when the going gets tough.
“”It was great to see everyone pulling together on the campsite, while we did a lot of physical work in and round Cornwall, out of the gym, as well as team activities. Also, we enjoyed an opposed training session with the Pirates, professional opposition, that allowed us to try out a lot of what we’ve been working on in pre-season.
“It’s been a great success. The boys have had to work hard outside of their comfort zone and they really gelled during the week, living with each other in close confines. During the season I’ve no doubt we’ll see the benefits of what we’ve done this week, as this type of connection is what pulls a team through adversity when they are away from home and under pressure. To that end, it’s been a really important week in our preparations.”
Cornish Pirates forwards coach Ian Davies, who had helped arrange the Ospreys visit to West Cornwall, commented:
"We were delighted when Ospreys coach Sean Holley contacted us about a joint training session but probably both sets of coaches didn't think it would be as productive as it was.
"Both teams had an excellent workout, with forwards and backs working in separate units before we then had a referee controlled attack/defence session which lasted for 20 minutes. Our thanks are expressed to Steve Leyshon, the RFU Panel Development Manager, for attending this session."
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