That dreaded alarm rings out on a Monday morning at 07:00, meaning it’s time to get up and ready myself for training. I have half an hour to get dressed, eat, and prepare my bag for the day before getting to University for 8:00, be on the field and ready to train with the squad.
Winter is coming, so obviously the temperature is dropping week in, week out. Thus, we get the warm-up underway immediately, doing a half lap of the pitch combined with a series different stretches led by senior members of the squad.
After this, the coach calls us in and we begin training, dispersing into forwards and backs. I play in the centre, so I go with the pretty boys. We run our moves making sure everyone is aware of what is going on., and if there’s time we do some team run throughs before 9:00. Once we finish training, a few of the boys head to the on-site canteen and grab a team brekky; a lovely full English (perfect for the student athlete). #Gains.
Then the lectures begin. I am at Hartpury University in Gloucester, and it focuses heavily on sports courses, so I am very fortunate to be able to combine education and my passion; which is sport.
After the University day is done, I head back and get my rugby kit ready again for Club rugby training. Since I drive, I’m virtually a student taxi, and pick up the other boys who play for the club at around 6 and head to training.
I play for National 3 side Lydney RFC. We are very lucky here as the facilities are great and we have a fantastic coaching setup. While we wait for the whole team to come out of the changing rooms, low-intensity touch rugby is set up just to get the hands going. Once all the boys are ready, we head over to our S&C coach for a thorough warm-up, which is a mix of stretching and small games that work us both mentally and physically. Following on from that, our head coach will have a short talk about who we’re facing on Saturday and what is expected of us.
Training typically lasts about an hour and a half, and after that, we get some food from the clubhouse. This is a godsend because as all students understand, you never turn down free food!
But game day is completely different.
For all University and college sport, matches and games are on Wednesdays. On away days, all the boys get onsite a bit early and have breakfast together, which gets that team camaraderie going early doors. Then it’s onto the bus, which has a relatively quiet atmosphere with all the boys focusing themselves, psyching themselves up for the game, in their own way; whether that’s with music or a snooze. Our coach will tell us the starting line-up again and strategies/plans for the day.
Arriving at the opposition's ground and into the changing room, speakers blast tunes that really get you going. A personal favourite of mine is Ante Up by M.O.P. Warm-ups and run-throughs then take place for a short time before we go back to the changing room to get ourselves into playing kit and a huddle like every other team in the country does. The captain offers a few words followed by a big 1,2,3 SQUEEZE then it’s out onto the pitch for 80 minutes.
Once the game is done, everyone at University knows the saying “Win or lose, we’re on the booze” and we’ll likely have a great bus back no matter the outcome; either way, we all enjoyed having a run out playing the game we love. The whole way back there will be drinking games like “bag of death” along with fines and punishments that have been committed over the week. I’ll say no more…
When we arrive back to University, we all pile into the student bar and continue drinking, then onto town for the student night to never remember fuelled with cheap drinks, awful clubs, and good mates.
Student rugby life is great; nothing beats game day!