Friday, 9 August 2013

Scarlets join up with Royal Air Force for summer training camp

A full 46-man Scarlets squad has been tested physically and mentally as part of an intense three-day training camp at MOD St Athan this week.

The training exercises at the MOD base form part of the Scarlets pre-season training and preparations ahead of their first non-competitive rugby fixtures of the summer kicking off with English Premiership side Exeter Chiefs at Parc y Scarlets next Saturday August 17th (kick off 3pm).

With a strong focus on leadership, decision-making skills and the ability to react and communicate under pressure, the group has been put through their paces mentally and physically by RAF Outreach teams with a series of group training exercises at the Vale of Glamorgan base.

Activities have ranged from assault course training, parachute drills, activities with special forces combat trainers, planning exercises, leadership and team building.

The training camp included a full back-room staff and the entire Scarlets playing contingent coming together as a group at the MOD base, including returning British and Irish Lion Jonathan Davies who had given up time on leave to join his Scarlets colleagues; plus internationals Rhys Priestland, Scott Williams, Josh Turnbull and Ken Owens as they come back into full fitness ahead of the new season.

Scarlets Head Coach Simon Easterby said the programmes had been a valuable way to take the players away from the conventional training field and test them with a series of unique situations and exercises.

He said: “It’s been excellent throughout. The players got a bit of a shock on the first morning with a 5.15am wake-up call and straight into some very physical activities before breakfast that set the tone for the training camp. They performed very well from the outset and really bought into the whole experience individually and collectively as a group: as a coaching group it’s been really beneficial to see how the players react to different situations they are not expecting.

“The players have worked very hard throughout and been really committed; I have been really impressed how all of them have taken to the challenges put in front of them and it will be interesting to see how much they take out of their time here as we approach the new season.

“We’ve tested problem solving, leadership, decision making under fatigue, reaction under pressure and how players process information and communicate with each other to complete varied tasks.”

Easterby said he has been very pleased with how the Scarlets pre-season training has come together over the past eight weeks and that the group were focused and looking forward to their three pre-season fixtures against Exeter Chiefs (Parc y Scarlets, August 17th at 3pm), London Welsh (25th August, 2pm, Kassam Stadium) and Gloucester Rugby (Kingsholm, August 30th, 7.30pm).

The first game of the season sees the Scarlets welcome PRO12 champions Leinster onFriday 6th September with three Saturday evening games against Benetton Treviso, Glasgow and Ulster before Christmas and the traditional Ospreys Boxing Day derby returning to Parc y Scarlets this year.

Easterby said the pre-season was all about building momentum and belief in the group ahead of a huge opening game for the Scarlets in the Celtic league.

He said: “The players will have learnt a lot about themselves the last few days as well as giving the coaches insight into the qualities and dynamics in groups of players that can only come out in through out of the ordinary training and situations we wouldn’t cover on the training field during the season.

“It’s not just been about physical exertion either and pushing the boys to their endurance limits, it’s been about bringing out their leadership skills, decision-making under pressure and communication skills as a group.

“A lot of planning went into the days at the RAF St Athan and we are grateful to everyone at the base and the RAF Outreach workers and all those involved for supporting what has been a very beneficial and inspiring few days for the Scarlets squad and all the back-room staff.”

St Athan opened on 1st September 1938 for the RAF, and was reputedly the largest station of the forces. In recent years the station was used mainly for aircraft repairs, becoming home to the Defence Aircraft Repair Agency.

As well as the RAF, the site also housed other forces, and in 2006 it officially became an MOD base and has a large army presence; the repair functions under DARA are gradually being wound down. It currently houses a British Army special forces support group, RAF Squadron Air Training Corps, and MOD specialist technical training school.


Post a Comment