Tom Harrison’s Junior Report: Our Headingley experience

the England players get together during the Leeds training session
the England players get together during the Leeds training session

Last Friday a group of coaches and players from Scarborough Rugby Club travelled to Leeds to watch England continue their preparations for the upcoming RBS 6 Nations campaign.

The sessions, held at Leeds Carnegie were a resounding success with a crowd of over 6000 rugby fans Leeds watching the open session.

The England team started with some warm-up games and engaged the crowd during this time playing traditional games just like our teams do here.

After the warm-up the players were put through their paces during a phase play session where the players were attacking from different areas on the field.

As you would expect their lines of running and handling ability were fantastic and their understanding of where they needed to be was great. This year at Scarborough we have tried to implement the same style of play across all the senior sides and we will also be looking to implement this across all the junior sides within the near future.

For the third part of the session they split up into forwards and backs. The forwards went off and worked for 30 minutes on line-outs and during this time the backs practised set play moves.

Throughout the whole session a commentator was explaining what they were doing and why they were doing it along with interviewing coaches and injured players.

There were a few absentees from the session; most notable of which was Manu Tuilagi who has since been ruled out of England’s 6 Nations opener against Scotland.

Manu is a key part to England’s game plan and without him they will have to find another way to “barrel” over the advantage line.

With the session coming to an end the England players worked on their individual skills with Toby Flood, Owen Farrell and Billy Twelvetrees taking the time to work on their kicking with coach Mike Catt.

They played a game which involved kicking the ball to coach Catt who was stood over 50 metres away the players and they had to land the ball within five metres of where he stood. Any failures were met with a sprint to the furthest touch line.

The accuracy that they showed was phenomenal, regularly kicking the ball straight into the arms of the coach and it just goes to show that even the professionals play fun little games.

After the session the players went and put some warmer clothes on and came back out to sign autographs for the thousands who had turned up to watch in particular the kids from schools throughout Yorkshire.

It was great to see most of the players spending time signing balls, shirts, flags etc.

In the evening there was a chance to hear England’s Head Coach Stuart Lancaster speak about how he spent his first 12 months in charge as England manager.

He was very open and honest throughout the evening and especially about the state English Rugby was in when he took charge. He stated that his first decision was to get rid of all the bad influences on the squad and some of the older players who had become a bit complacent.

After starting the 2012 6 Nations with an extremely young and inexperienced side Lancaster received plaudits for the way in which he created a positive environment; something which he felt was the most important aspect to be successful.

Lancaster told a story about when he first took over as England boss he wrote to all the players’ parents asking them what it meant to see their sons play for England.

He also asked the parents to ask people who have helped in their development, and he read out the responses to all the players when the first got together as a group.

He said that after that evening all the players knew what it meant to play for England and more importantly they knew what it meant to everyone else.

The 6 Nations kicks off on Saturday and only time will tell if Lancaster’s plans and ideas have worked.