Sunday, March 1, 2015


GAH I don't even know where to BEGIN when creating an overview of this experience.

I guess I can start off with admitting that I don't think I've ever practiced that much rugby consecutively over that span of time. It was basically like having 4 or 5 full practices along with scrimmages in one weekend. I literally woke up, went to training, trained all day, went home, went to bed, woke up the next day, repeated.

And IT.WAS.AWESOME. I only wish that was regular life and not just a weekend event. I wish I could do that full time, so so badly.


I'm exhausted and there's so many notes I wrote that I'm just going to regurgitate them straight from my physical rugby diary that I carry errywhere to scribble down things immediately.

CRAZY DRILL - set up 4 corners
- last person in each line: pass to next line (clockwise/counterclock), follow pass
- first person in line: run diagonally across square, place ball en route, pick up ball on other side, quick turn around and long pass
...I drew a small diagram in my journal and I just tried to redo it in's a hot mess. Took me a few attempts in the drill itself before I even got it, so try to decipher that if you dare.

- remember sympathetic passing when in close quarters/not passing far

Practicing communication on defense
- break off into partners
    - one partner closes eyes
    - other partner directs
         - ex. shift left/right, fire up, back pedal
- everyone plays in a tight grid, need to guide around each other
- variations:
    - number everyone 1-4
    - odd #s (1+3) and even #s (2+4) have to pair up with each other
     - have partners periodically switch so they have to communicate to find a new odd/even #

Skills practiced: 
- communication/listening skills
- field awareness/spacing
- quick thinking
- setting up defensive lines
- passing
     - timing
     - skill
     - patience/keeping depth

"We'll get the next one...we'll get them next time....Hey, you'll get them next time...."
 - picking up a teammate after a mistake
- "They already know they missed the tackle or dropped the ball...they know they did something wrong, so they don't need to be reminded. Get them back up and keep going."

Stacking - keep one person behind the ball carrier
     - in support ready to ruck or can confuse the defense by running a quick switch

Watching a defender's hips when attacking: 
     - the pass/gap is where the defender's back is facing
....again, made a diagram in my journal and butchered the recreation
Basically, run/pass to the side that the defender's back is facing. If a defender is squared up against you, way to go defender but then you need to pick a side in order to draw them into one direction.

Positioning in tackling - split attacker's legs when positioning for a tackle

Rucking - remember 3 things:
     - low stance
     - drive
     - position/aim for a target
- DRILL: "Queen of the Ruck"
     - put handful of players in a small square
     - need to drive people out of square
    - last person in square is the winner
     - tactics: getting low, pairing up to drive one person out, pushing
       two people out, pulling them forward/out
- one on one rucking over a ball

Binding in a scrum: importance of neutral head
     - dictates straightness of the rest of your spine
     - "looking over sunglasses"
     - can be hard to maintain neutral head when pressure put on it
     - neck muscles are smaller/weaker than most
         - strengthen exercise: wrap a towel behind neck
                - pull on ends of towel

                - push against towel with neck/resist getting pulled down
    - 90 degrees
    - butt down
    - tight core
    - strengthening tool: we used a harness that looked like backpack straps you buckle in the front of your chest, as if you're strapping on a parachute. On the back is a metal clasp that attaches you to a tight strap. The strap is attached to a pole/something tight, and when you lean forward you're suspended in mid air. It feels as if you're engaged in a scrum and helps you practice the correct binding stance. IT IS A DEEP BURN IN THE QUADS AND CORE.

Running at angles - drill of doing hands in lines of 3
     - challenge: cannot end up in the same lane you start in
           - forces you to run switches, loops, etc.

"Baby airplanes" - holding hands out when firing up on defense
     - NOT GOOD because you give the attacker a target to run at (will run at "branches"/your arms instead of at your "trunk"/ strong body)
ex. boxers and wrestlers keep their arms in close for a stronger stance

PHEW! And that's all I've got!
....for now.

"Let the ball do the work."


But it's still always SO tough to transition back into real life (and the Northeastern tundra...).

As usual, this experience has just added on to my rugby resume and made me propel onward in my rugby career. Every time I am blessed with the opportunity to play at this level (and even at any level, when many are stuck in an "off season"), I return stronger and with more knowledge in my back pocket. I cannot convey how extremely lucky I have been to be able to participate in these tournaments - I'm doing my best to take advantage of what I've already been given and use it to the best of my ability to keep moving forward.

The entire coaching, training, and managing staff on the team made me get so much out of every minute on that trip. Even from the beginning, it was like the coaching staff read my mind. If you look two posts down to the February 11th post, I discussed some areas that I would like to specifically further develop. On day one, our coaches answered pretty much every single question I had in my mind. 

I'm going to break down a couple of things I learned by the specific quotes from our coaches that have stuck in my brain:

  • "You're GOING to get hit....expect a hit." I appreciated this explicit statement from one of our coaches when practicing the timing of passes. It took the hesitation out of my brain about whether or not I would get hit from an oncoming defender when deciding to pass. Either way, whether or not I do get hit, I should just expect it anyway because it's a good guideline to ensure that you have completely drawn in your defender. Even in drills, after a pass if you're bumping into a teammate playing touch against you that's a good thing!! You should be aiming for some sort of contact after a pass to prevent the defense from drifting.
  • "Let the ball do the work." Especially in sevens, this is another simple yet VITAL concept. Instead of tiring yourself out going into contact, rucking, etc. you can save yourself and your teammates so much time and energy just through ball movement.
  • "Hit the bloody gap!" ....I don't even fully remember the lesson I learned from this statement since it already speaks for itself pretty much, but I just love it hahaha. It's still a great way to remember the importance of running at angles and utilizing space while on attack. Keep your head up, communicate, and get the ball moving to those gaps!
And it goes without saying that once again, all the people I had the pleasure of meeting or seeing again added to my success on this trip. I think that one of the reasons that I'm able to keep moving forward in rugby is simply from the sport itself - how welcoming, supportive, and generally friendly rugby players are. They make it SO EASY to work as a team, it's really no surprise that you're able to communicate and work better with teammates that you trust and actually LIKE! I'm sure all teams have their fair share of problems, nobody's perfect, and nobody gets along ALL the time....but I've been so lucky to play with the people I have. 

Thanks everyone - Liz, coaches, players, trainers, parents, coworkers, friends, family....who keep me going. I would be NOWHERE without the support from so many venues. And this is just the beginning - the fire continues to be fully ignited inside of me. I have lofty goals and my eyes on the prize. I'm going one step at a time, and no matter how many times I'm tripped up, stumble, slip on a banana peel, told to turn around, told I'm going the wrong way, or bang into a brick wall...
I won't stop.