French Top 14 - A new life in France
Follow the life of Everything Rugby team member Tom May as he begins life in the South of France with Toulon.
Monday 27th July 2009
Life after 1 month......
Life after 1 month......
We are now settling in well and I am getting used to the new routines that take place out here in France both on and off the field. The day starts much earlier out here because of the hot weather and you really do need to have a quick 'power nap' in the afternoon to help you get over the tiredness before you train in the evening.
We played against Brive on Friday in our first pre season game and we came away from the match with a win! Only a 9 - 3 score line, not exactly a thriller but that was to be expected with both teams only having completed a few rugby sessions prior to the fixture. It was good to see Jamie Noon who came down with his new team but it was weird to be playing against him after 10 years pulling on the Newcastle shirt together!
French rugby is much more about physical intimidation and a team's ability to overcome the inconsistency of the refereeing! There were several decisions on Friday that were 'strange' to say the least. Phillippe Saint Andre has mentioned to us already that this is what to expect week in week out and just to get used to it but until you actually see the standard of refereeing for yourself you don't think it will be that bad - but believe me, I think it will be!
I played 40 minutes at the weekend and was fairly happy with the way things went on the wing having not played there for around 8 months. I didn't get the ball really in attack but tried to focus on my defence and communication which seemed to go well - I am sure I will be told at some point this week!
I am looking forward to training this week and getting more rugby under the belt as there is nothing worse than playing your first couple of games in pre season as they only seem to frustrate you. We have maybe four rugby sessions this week, some more gym work and some time to focus on individual skills which is great when you can do some kicking and it's not cold and raining or some passing when the ball isn't wet!
Roll on the next game which is on Friday against Racing Metro, again at home at the Stade Mayol. It will be good to see guys like Dan Scarborough and Epi Taione who are now both playing on Paris.
Posted by: , on July 27th 2009 on 09:30am0 Comments
Friday 17th July 2009
Training camp in Serre Chevalier
Training camp in Serre Chevalier
This week we have travelled as a squad to the Alpine town of Serre Chevalier, better know for it's skiiing and winter sports. It took us about 4.5 hours from Toulon to get here but that was nothing too unusual as I have spent enough time on buses travelling with Newcastle!
On arrival we were told to pack a ruck sack with a few select items and then we set off on a 12 kilometre hike/jog. Through the forest and over the lower parts of the ski fields we went and 1hr 40 minutes in we reached our destination for the night which was a field in the middle of a valley next to a farm.
We had a great time in the evening having had a BBQ and a couple of drinks together. I spent my time with Conrad Barnard (ex Cheetahs), Luke Rooney (ex Penrith Panther in the NRL) and with Ross Skeate (ex Stormers) and spent time talking and getting to know each other more. Things like this are fantastic for getting to know your other team-mates. We were told that even though it was nearly 30 degrees during the day that it would be down to around 4 degrees by 4 in the morning. I decided that I would get least wet by lying on a bench and putting my sleeping bag on there.
Having had a poor nights sleep, we woke up, had some breakfast in the farmhouse and then set off on what was to be a 2.45 hour fast walk from about 1320 metres to 2750 metres. It was a test of mental strength and many of the lads were finding the going very tough but we all got through and reaching the top was fantastic and we all had a real sense of achievement. This is part of the route of the Tour de France and it gave us all a sense of how difficult the terrain is that they cover during the race.
We spent the afternoon down in Serre Chevalier in an Adventure Park and used it to build some teamwork and spirit and then went back to our hotel for a deserved hot shower and a rest before heading off to the local hot baths where we spent some time soaking our sore bodies!
From tomorrow onwards we are focussing on the rugby and we have two sessions a day which will be tough but will be good for us in the build up to our first game against Brive next Friday.
Posted by: , on July 17th 2009 on 02:18pm0 Comments
Friday 10th July 2009
Arrival in France
Arrival in France
After the nightmare of packing up our house in Newcastle, the actual trip down here to Toulon was fairly painless! Landing in Nice we were picked up by a guy called Gerard who speaks only French so it gave me a good hour or so to practice!!
We are living in a flat in an area just on the outskirts of Toulon for the first couple of months and then we move into a house in a small town called Carqueiranne which Kate (my wife) and I are both looking forward to.
I was given the option of starting pre season on the 13th July but since coming back from tour I have just wanted to get over here and start the new challenge that lies ahead. With that in mind, I started last Thursday at pre season and have been to every session since. The lads are really great to be with and the team spirit is fantastic here and it has been exciting to join the team and start training with them.
I am trying to speak as much French as I can and I enjoy having a good go at it even though sometimes I am sure that the people I am speaking to have no idea what I am on about. There are a good number of English speaking players which is nice as we are all learning together but I am trying my best to make the effort with the French guys as I would be trying to help them out if they were trying to speak English at an English club.
Everyday that we have been here has been over 30 degrees and sunny and we are training in the mornings and then have the afternoon off and then perhaps sometimes we have a rugby session in the evening. It is quite a strange routine to get into as there has never been any problems with the heat in the North East since I have been there!!
We have a hill session tomorrow morning (Saturday 11/7) and then we are off for the weekend and next Thursday we travel up to the ski resort Serre Chevalier where we are on camp which should be great fun. There is less of a focus on the physical aspect of our training and more concentration on our rugby game plan and skills. Having said that, over the past week or so and a bit longer for some, there has been some really hard work put in so we could probably do with a bit of down time from the weights and fitness, although I am sure they will find a decent hill if they need to up there.
The first week has been tough training but also there have been some tough times off the field as we try to settle in but that is to be expected and I would be very surprised if all the new players were not feeling the same way at times. We are both enjoying the experience and I look forward to keeping you posted on life in France.
Posted by: , on July 10th 2009 on 10:34am0 Comments