President's XV Postcard from Estonia - Real Rehab!

Ed Gaught working on precision. Image Royal Navy Rugby Union © Mark Deller
Manoa Satala passing at pace. Image Royal Navy Rugby Union © Mark Deller
Mepham Gledhill - One of the Halfback Pairings. Image Royal Navy Rugby Union © Mark Deller
Saturday's Competition
Roko Kurasasa running in the Anti Gravity Pressure Tank. Image Royal Navy Rugby Union © Mark Deller
Ryan Cox feeds the backs. Image Royal Navy Rugby Union © Mark Deller
Team Photo below the parapets. Image Royal Navy Rugby Union © Mark Deller

After the excesses of both a tough first match and a very late finish to the post match entertainment, getting up for rehab the following morning was tough to say the least. The inability of the sun to go down properly out here always seems to lead one to draw a false conclusion that it is never that late, and as such when the alarm goes the following morning it always comes as a bit of a shock!  The morning after the night before and with everyone assembled early – a brisk jog out to the quayside to inspect the ex-RN stock before a couple of laps round the camp allowed the lads to shake out their tired bodies before coming back for a consolidated period of deep stretching in the barracks under the guidance of Ady Cherrington. His plan was to drop the guys into the harbour just outside our barrack but apparently even the Estonian Conscripts aren’t made to do that!  A quick rehab clinic for the couple of niggles and we were ready for the first of our official visits on our day off.

The East Tallinn Central Hospital had very kindly offered to host us at their Medical Trauma and Rehabilitation facility, a facility that specialises in the rehabilitation of amputees. Dr Heidi Gil, Director of the Medical Rehabilitation Clinic. accompanied by H.E. Mr Chris Holtby OBE very kindly showed us around an extremely well-furnished clinic and explained the importance of the linkage and the work down with the Estoniian Armed Forces during the Afghanistan campaign. Heidi took great care in explaining the various treatments she and her team performed to allow injured patients to recover their lives to some form of normality after the trauma of initial injury and subsequent amputation. She encouraged the boys to try all the kit and indeed for some we even got free second opinions on some of the niggles!  Hydrotherapy, Hot and Cold Heat treatment, Gas, Salt, Mud – indeed whatever you needed were all available. Roko Kurasasa ran in the Anti-Gravity tank trainer dressed in his pressure suit pants, while Chris Warner gave the fully dynamic mobility simulator a thorough workout (one for the RNRU Christmas present list methinks !). To this particular group of young servicemen, the visit delivered a very poignant message and was reminiscent of a similar motivational talk given to the Senior XV last season by Doc Lambert and Mr ‘Eddie’ Grant (Ex RM injured in Afghanistan). We left truly humbled and somewhat reminded that the opportunity to play competitive rugby is not always there for everyone.

As if to finish off our busman’s holiday – our final destination was the Estonian Maritime Museum and Sea plane Harbour (something for everyone!). Situated around the 1916 Seaplane hangars, the museum was a large imposing concrete dome structure which when you entered inside looked vaguely like the set off a James Bond movie. The main feature in this subterranean hangar was a British built 1937 conventional submarine the LEMBIT, that had ceased active operations in the late 70s and had only recently been withdrawn from the sea for restoration.  It now holds the record at 75 years in the water! To the average layman just another relic from a bygone era – to the likes of Taff Wilcock and Sean Hammond (TSG), a masterpiece of British engineering that fully explained why submariners were/are a breed apart – as they took the other members of the TSG on their ‘valve by valve’ tour of the boat (“you have to know your systems if you want to stay alive down there!”), so the party steadily grew in number and soon our 2 experts were guiding a sizeable fare paying lump of the museum audience through the various sites and giving them the benefit of a bit of British Military spin ….they’re not just rugby managers you know!.

With the rest of the day left to allow the players to recover, our focus quickly turned to the next training session and ensuring all the required admin for the next phase was properly in place. Estonia has begun its Mid-Summer fest and the relative solitude and reduced pace in town gave everyone a chance to take stock and relax before the next phase began. It’s a nice place and so much nicer when not having to absorb the cruise-ship tour party invasions. Looking ahead – the weather has turned a little grim on the horizon. Training this morning was wet with damp aspects and it looks like Latvia is going to be a very long bus journey away – the boys are packed and ready to go very much looking forward to what comes next. The Flyers for the weekend competition are already posted around the town and bystanders are already telling us they are coming to watch when we get back!.

The Rugby Spectator