In his third column for Fifteen Rugby, former St Josephâ€™s College fly half Dan Lewis talks about settling back into life in France as he begins pre season training ahead of his second season at Oyonnax.
Across the Chanel â€“ Dan Lewis
My aim when I started this column was mainly to show the differences between being a young, aspiring Rugby player in France versus England. However, there are some things that I imagine are pretty much the same no matter where you go; number one being that pre season is never easy!
Having just finished my third full week, I can safely say that being this side of the Channel doesnâ€™t make conditioning sessions any less challenging. But there are a lot of things that differ out here, and not just in rugby. The obvious one is of course the language, and yes the more time out here the easier that gets, but thereâ€™s still opportunity for the odd mistake.
Last week I was done for the morning having just finished a PMA session doing some mountain sprints. Needless to say I was ever so slightly exhausted after that, and living in France, it would be a sin to pass up the freshly made croissants sold in the bakeries on almost every corner of every street. So I took a little recovery stroll down the road and went to order a little post-sesh treat for my housemate and me.
Now I would say that my knowledge of the French language, especially in terms of ordering food is pretty strong. However this is when the mountain sprints hit me.
This should have been a 2 minute job, after all, five croissants were all that I wanted. However, when I asked for them, the lady serving me seemed very hesitant, and kept asking me if I was sure thatâ€™s what I wanted. Now I know my numbers in French, I am well aware the five is â€˜cinqâ€™. What I was not so aware of at this point, (I was tired!), was that I was in fact trying to order fifty croissants (cinquante). The poor woman kept saying â€˜But are you sure you want that many!? Iâ€™ve only got 30 in the back!â€™ and I kept getting more and more annoyed â€“ I just wanted my croissants!
Back to training, and itâ€™s been great settling back in to the routine, and learning the new systems and patterns of play for the coming season. One more week lies ahead before a small break, after which the pre season so called â€˜friendliesâ€™ will commence, for which there is both a growing excitement and intensity building within the entire squad.
Of course, itâ€™s difficult learning these patterns and structures in French rather than English, but the difference a year has made in that respect has felt huge. Understanding the rugby terminology for both what youâ€™re doing wrong and right makes for a much faster development of both personal skills and group performance.
So as pre season continues and gets closer towards game time, its been another good couple of weeks, with a lot of work still to do and a lot more to learn. Also if anyone is interested in about 46 croissants then please give me a shout.
By Dan Lewis
Dan Lewis is currently an Espoir at French Top 14 club Oyonnax. He was fly half for the St Josephâ€™s College 1st XV during their triumph at the 2013 St Josephâ€™s Festival, playing for England U18 Clubs and Schools later in that 2013/14 season.