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Will Wilson Blog – US Collegiate Rugby Development Camp – An insight into US rugby. Part 2

Earlier in the week we broght you Part 1 of a blog from the US Collegiate Development Camp at Dartmouth College by Wellington College’s Will Wilson.

Today we bring you Part 2 of his blog as the Camp comes to a close with some full matchplay and Will reflects on the Development Camp and the contrasts between his experiences there and here in the UK.

With Collegiate rugby growing increasingly popular, and with a growing number of UK students choosing to study in the US, it makes for fascinating reading.

Will Wilson US Collegiate Development Camp Blog:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The heat and the baking sun disappeared today, bringing a far more familiar drizzle with a warmth almost akin to the beginnings of a monsoon season! At least my sunburn wouldn’t get any worse today…

To start the day today we split up into junior and senior groups and, once again, focused on counter-attacking. The rigid structure we had been forced to stick to the previous session was still in place, but we were able to run phase plays and adapt to what was in front of and around us in a more game-realistic situation. The rain made handling the wet ball a challenge as usual, but it was a breath of fresh air in terms of the whole camp: a chance for the players to express themselves in a more individual manner.

The afternoon then saw us move into practicing some sevens play, which was far from a highlight. Many of those who will be reading this blog will have seen a lot of schoolboy and good club sevens on a regular basis in the UK: the difference between the 15-a-side game and sevens is palpable.

Out here, however, what was effectively a 15’s game with seven players was played. Admittedly, those, like myself, who had actually practiced how to play sevens were in a huge minority, and we only had an afternoon to learn how to play, which, by anyone’s admission, is not enough.

It says a lot for the calibre of the players and coaches out here, though, that this was the first and only time throughout the entire week that I have felt frustrated with the quality of a session. Let’s hope tomorrow brings more of what I had been enjoying so much previously!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The last day of the camp dawned with a heavy rainstorm and a frat party that had been going all night singing terribly outside our dorm windows. As though any other incentive to get up was needed, we also didn’t have to go through the horrors of our mandatory core routine run by one of the second-year Dartmouth players helping to run the camp!

Today, at long last, we were able to play a full contact game: so, after a breakdown conditioning warm-up, we split off into three teams and, in the pouring rain and slippery conditions, threw the ball around in a manner Fiji sevens would be proud of!

The structure of our play was, as always, fairly basic; however, with never having played together before, and it only being ten-a-side, there was no real room for complications. What I had not expected was the hunger and work-rate shown by all involved, whether they had been playing rugby for a month or ten years. This commitment to self-improvement had been developing all week, and I feel it manifested itself for the vast majority of players in our hour-long playing session. We all just wished it had happened earlier on in the week, and not just once!

There is no doubt that American collegiate rugby still has a very long road to negotiate before it is fit to compete with corresponding programmes in other countries such as England. However, from what I saw, and the fact that I was interested enough to go over and experience it first-hand, they are certainly going about it the right way.

For those considering either studying in America and playing collegiate rugby, or simply coming out to a camp like this, I warn you it’s not what you expect. Nothing quite prepares you for the experience of an American college, and it’s certainly true to say there are many people it won’t suit. But if anyone is even remotely interested, get out there and try one of these camps. You meet some awesome people, get incredibly well looked after, and the experience is one you’re never likely to forget.

By Will Wilson

 

You can see Part 1 of Will’s blog here: Will Wilson US Collegiate Development Camp Blog – Part 1.

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