Postcard From Malta

Loud music and sweat marked the start of the Malta Consolidation Period. After a relatively tiring first day establishing on the island, with the inevitable airport queues and Mediterranean traffic jams slowing our progress, the squad was quick to acclimatise to the no-frills hotel environment before getting down to the job in hand of consolidating the season’s progress to date.

Malta has been specifically chosen as a base camp for this mid-season consolidation period, a new departure from our now standard training camp routine, predominantly because of the very deep rooted Naval links that are in place, the obvious no-nonsense style the islanders uphold and the warmth and camaraderie already being shown to the group as a whole. It’s a friendly place and we are being made to feel very welcome – it provides the perfect backdrop to establish the deeper squad bonding, while providing exactly the facilities that we need to maintain momentum. No frills, but all the basics are in place with access to a well-fitted private gym, ‘The Pit’, with surprisingly enough floorspace to field the whole squad at once. The initial session was clearly a wake-up call for what is coming in the other half of the season, and the now downsized squad were left in no doubt as to the standard of output we now aspire to. Hard and physical.

Likewise the pitch training facilities at Marsa, kindly loaned to us by the Maltese RFU, have provided exactly what we have needed – a clubhouse, changing facilities and a well-proportioned pitch and training area (with enough grass to cushion the tired bodies!). All the facilities have contributed to making a firm base from which to focus our efforts. There are no complaints – we are close enough to the night life and to the beach to keep the management team busy marshalling the squad, while the facilities ensure we can achieve exactly what we need to do and when.

To date the Senior season progress has been steady, but as we move into the next phase of the training camp after consolidation, the intensity of the fixtures will now increase. The opposition will become bigger and faster, and the tempo of the game will no doubt match as we prepare for the key capped fixtures. During our time on the island, our plan is to review our styles of game play, analyse the major opposition more closely and really seek to achieve full squad buy-in and ownership of the final output as we deliberately target each fixture. This obviously requires a fair amount of classroom discussion and video analysis, and when the squad are not working hard in the gym or on the pitch, they are being asked to focus their thoughts in our bespoke classroom facility deep in the basement next to the indoor pool, on how we intend to overcome the planned opposition. The boys are tired but smiling – although a little less British drizzle and a little more Mediterranean sun would obviously help the tans finish off nicely!

Article by Mark Deller