Below are some entries from the players in Aspen training for the WC...also if you want to see pictures of the training go to the usarugby link below.
The Men's National Team Camp in Aspen
Saturday, July 21
The players arrive at DIA. We all pack in to a half a dozen SUVâ€™s and make our way to Aspen, which is a good four hour drive from the airport and just long enough to make six rugby players in an SUV a bit antsy. Everyone pulls into Saltyâ€™s ranch at some point in the afternoon and soon the yard is scattered with players, tents, rugby balls and cricket supplies. All campers are split into teams (four player teams and one management) and issued their team shirts. Salty and Alec Parker go over some basic guidelines of the camp. Dinner ensues, as well as a quiz to judge the teamâ€™s IQ. After cleaning up and getting ready for bed, most of the team is cashed and find themselves in their sleeping bags by nightfall.
Sunday, July 22
At 6.00 a.m., I find myself being abruptly pulled out of my tent by my legsâ€¦ Itâ€™s coach Peter Thorburn. Itâ€™s a beautiful morning in Aspen as we start out on our first run up to Saltyâ€™s house. Along the run we have to carry three team members up the hills (except me cuz my ankle is still a little sore - ha ha ha ha). After breakfast we start preparing for the morning of paintballâ€¦ my 22 hole â€œChuck Taylorsâ€ are the perfect military boot for combat. Somehow I still manage to keep my uniquely stylish look throughout the day. After paintball we started our hay baling competition, great core strength and endurance was the key to our success, but apparently we were not so good at lining up the bales in some farmerly orderâ€¦ although they looked pretty good to me! We moved onto the brick laying task which went rather well after Dave Williams clearly told us no talking was allowed and five seconds into the task Chris Os turned to Brian Lemay and said: â€œpass me that brick pleaseâ€ so Os was conveniently out for the rest of the task. After showing the worst display out of all four teams, we knew we might have to pick it up a bit. Following a delicious lunch set up by the Blue team, we set off for our afternoon field session. A lot of tired bodies and mentally drained minds caused a few more dropped balls then expected, but a very beneficial team session was had by all. After our session the teams had a river crossing task on the way home, as well as a bath which was good fun had by all. Dinner was arranged by team C and a big hit full of good carbs and spicy sausage. The night concluded with some sing songs in the barn by a few players, but I opted to call it an early night and snuggle in to our cozy tent. â€“ provided by Chad Erskine
Monday, July 23
Rise and shine at 6 a.m. for our morning routine with Dave Williams, which is set to begin at 6:45am. Todayâ€™s morning session was not as bad as the previous morning, as a full day of navigating and hiking up the mountain lies ahead. So today, we warmed up with a short run down the dirt road in front of the ranch and then began a bit of boxing and other conditioning exercises. After some breakfast prepared by the Yellow Team (Team D), which from this point forward will be referred to as Team DogPound, we prepped for our excursion. We split up into our mini teams and went on our way. Each team was equipped with a compass and the objective was to reach the lunch area at the top of the mountain before coming back down. However, along the way, we had to reach certain check point areas to guide us up the mountain and lead us to different â€œchallengesâ€ throughout the journey. So we began at the ranch with a map and coordinates only to lead us as far as our next checkpoint, at which point we acquired our next set of directions. Therefore, itâ€™s difficult to find your way to the top without hitting each checkpoint, unless of course you are on the Blue Team, with the one and only Todd Clever, and just keep walking up the mountain until you happen to stumble upon the lunch area/finish line. I assume they will be penalized for not reaching some of their checkpoints. But in their defense, it was a difficult journey up the mountain, especially for the DogPound Team (Francois, Tasi, Mate, Emerick, Thretton, Louie, Alec, Frenchy, Petri, and Dan). Working with a busted compass and receiving what we considered to be inaccurate directions, we spent nearly two hours searching for the second to last checkpoint. We were approaching the summit and then decided to backtrack thinking we may have missed it. We then stumbled across an alternate route to the top, which we thought to be correct. However, this was not the route according to our team directions and therefore would result in a penalty if we continued on this path. So again, as we neared the summit we decided to trek back down the mountain in hopes of finding our appropriate checkpoint. Finally, after being informed from Mike Hercus and Alec Parker (who set the course up and also patrolled the area on 4-wheelers) that our compass was most likely leading us in the wrong direction, we found the elusive checkpoint. Once reaching the top, we were clapped into lunch by the rest of our teammates and the management staff, who had been waiting for us at the site for nearly two hours. After lunch, it was time to go back down. Same mission â€“ find the checkpoints, complete the challenge, and get back to the ranch. Not as many problems going down for the DogPound, which was a welcome relief. As for our challenges, we came across four total on our journey. They were combinations of physical and mental tasks that had to be completed in order to continue. All in all, the results have yet to be finalized. It will be interested to see how the point scoring system will work. However, through all the mishaps, wrong turns, dysfunctional equipment, and the busted compass, Team DogPound team did not argue and fall apart. Rather, we stayed together as a team and embraced the experience â€“ singing songs and joking about who would be the first to be eaten if we did in fact get lost in the mountains (which by the way, I won that vote so thanks guysâ€¦the other alternative was the eating of Tasi Moungaâ€™s fingers, which would very well have filled us all). Itâ€™s something for us all to remember. â€“ provided by Mike Petri
Tuesday, July 24
Tuesday began with the team recovering from a 24 hour virus that decimated Â½ of the squad. The remaining healthy players were lucky enough to embark upon a â€œToughmanâ€ competition that was set up by Dave Williams (USA strength and conditioning coach). We were tricked into thinking this was going to be a lively and fun event but as the event began we quickly learned how wrong we were. Dave set-up 7 events and we were put into teams of 4. 1st we flipped a 8â€™ railroad tie 20 times, then we were off to carrying 30 cinder blocks from a pallet to another pallet that was sitting on a flatbed trailer, next we pulled the bucket of a tractor by ropes a distance of 50â€™ only using our arms to pull the bucket, then we were off to deadlifting the hitch of a 25â€™ trailer in groups of two for reps of 20, we finished of the main circuit with a tire throwing contest. The last event was a Â½ mile run away to the hay bailing fields where we would tow a trailer full of hay around a track that was set-up. We were in groups of two and each person was attached to a harness that was attached to the trailer hitch. Each pair would show up at the finish line looking like they had just run a marathon.
After we finished the circuit we found out that we would be doing the circuit again!!!!! So we completed two circuits and it took us approximately 1 hour and fifteen minutes to complete. Dave Williams was nice enough to run the circuit with us but that will not save him from the â€œCode Redâ€ that is going to be issued on him tonight!! - Submitted by Mike French
Wednesday, July 25
We woke to a day of a little mismanagement of time! It was moving day, from the ranch to the condos. Our time we were shooting for to leave was 8:00 am. We were to do some weight training before lunch and practice after. But we had to wait because first the tents could not be put away while being wet and the sun had yet to hit the ground. We figured we can go ahead and stack the bails of hay on the trailer, but those are also wet and needed sun. To make a long story short, we didnâ€™t start off well.
We got to the condos in Aspen at around 11:00 am. Its a beautiful place, but our rooms where not ready. My groups room wasnâ€™t ready till 3:00pm. So out of this long day of hurry up and wait, we finally got to a practice at 5:00pm. It would have been a good practice as we tried some new training skills techniques, but because we were in front of a lot of people who were watching and taking notes, I didnâ€™t feel like it ended up going as well as I'd like.
I do want to be here, and I know I can contribute. Today was probably a wash from yesterday. People, including myself, got sick and today others are feeling ill. There are a lot of great things that have been going on. There has also been a lot of true colors shown. Hopefully all of this will help us compete in the world cup, and not just participate. - Submitted by Henry Bloomfield
Thursday, July 26
Today started out with "Wake up with Williams" which consists of various core exercises. This was followed by breakfast by the pool, consisting of cereal and bagels. Then we really got stuck into the rugby training. It was our only 2-a-day rugby training day and the coaches packed in as much as possible since that was the case. Overall the enthusiasm and effort was great. The boys really took on board the lessons from the days camping and focused on their individual jobs.
After the second training the four teams, which we were seperated into during our camping excursion, were given a basket of food and instructed to cook dinner for each other. The red team, aka the best team, cooked pasta with meat balls and meat sauce accompanied by a very nice salad. Murray's nephew Hayden Mexted and Inaki Basuari led the way for the red team and delivered a great meal.
After dinner, most of us just wanted to go to bed, but we had a meeting. The meeting turned out to be a real eye opener and brought into focus exactly what it was that we are all here training for. The meeting was with Jean Claude, our french liaison for the World Cup. He detailed the entire trip including hotel, stadium, security and travel info. I know for me that it all seemed to become real that we were this close to representing our country in the Rugby World Cup in France. Hearing about the specifics of train travel and scheduling and the 12-man full time security detail, not to mention that 3 of the 4 games were sold out, all hit home and settled in all at once. There was talk of family visiting and attending games and for me it was the beginning of a dream that you don't want to wake up from. Hopefully I won't wake up until some time in October. -- submitted by Tyson Meek
Friday, July 27, 2007
Today is match day.
I'm glad I woke up in the comforts of the condo at the Gant rather than a tent with Dan Payne snoring in my ear. After a little breakfast, we were put in front of the cameras to produce some adverts for Setanta Sport and World Rugby Shop. Needless to say, some of the boys loved the limelight a little too much - including me!
After a few hours of relaxing and thinking about the game ahead, we drove down to the home of Aspen Rugby Club. It was a beautiful setting with mountains on either side of the pitch. The game was split between the red team and the blue team (I was on the red team). Effectively Thorbs divided the squad was by what seemed to be random choice. Having said that, to my dismay, the blue team managed to put in a good performance and beat us by 4 tries to nil. It was a hard fought game with a lot of high points from a number of players and it looks like the squad is coming together nicely.
The only dampers during the game were when the Colorado sky opened itself up and poured for the last quarter of the game and when the man-mountain Henry Bloomfield decided to run over me like I was a child!
Having got back to the condos (drenched!!) we cleaned up, met with Thorbs for a final meeting to consolidate the week. Although the boys were interested in Thorbs' exhilarating meeting, some minds were focused on what Aspen town centre had to offer...submitted (finally) by Chris Wyles