In his fourth column for us, Oyonnax Espoir Dan Lewis reflects on the build up and action in his first pre season game of the 2015/16 season.
Across the Channel â€“ Dan Lewis
Thereâ€™s nothing quite like the long build up of vigorous pre season training to get you in the mood for the first match of the season. Over the last two weeks, as a squad, we were given some time off before we came back together to continue our preparations for the first â€˜friendlyâ€™ game of this season.
During this time off, I decided to stay in France rather than return to England. This wasnâ€™t for any particular reason, but I personally feel itâ€™s important to be able to explore and enjoy the country that Iâ€™m trying to settle in, when given the time and opportunity. Itâ€™s also good to get a mental, as well as physical recovery after an intense training block; allowing yourself to take your mind off rugby for a few days lets you relax and return properly refreshed and raring to go. And thatâ€™s exactly what you want, because ultimately in any field or occupation, if you love what you do then youâ€™re always going to miss it after a break.
Despite the 2015/16 season not having actually started, having any kind of match at the end of the week gives you something exciting to look forward to. It adds that stimulus and extra bit of anticipation to every weights, conditioning and rugby session; because you can really see where your efforts are directly going. It also adds that little competitive feel to the week, knowing that there is going to be a team pickedâ€¦. and everyone wants to be on that first team sheet.
Finally getting to play the first game of the season was a great feeling! It almost comes with a sense of relief that youâ€™ve got to that point following the pre season training program. There was obviously the first game rust, but what was interesting was that in terms of my French, I felt anything but rusty. After over a year in France, the difference in not only the amount of vocab that I know but also the confidence to use it is huge!
Especially for a 10, whose job is organize and manage the game around them, it felt good to be a that little bit more comfortable attempting to do that in another language. However, to say that I sounded or appeared totally French was unfortunately not the case. At the end of the game I had a slight slip up. Having been awarded a penalty, I summoned up my best French to ask the Referee if I still had the chance to take it quicklyâ€¦. He responded in English, â€˜I understand. There are for minutes remaining in the game.â€™
Er. Not exactly the information I was after!
By Dan Lewis
Â 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.