Scotland U17 In Valladolid: Week One

The 30-strong Scotland U17 squad has arrived in Spain at the start of an intense two weeks of training at the camp in Valladolid. Here they share their first impressions and thoughts during week one...

Match Report - Scotland U17 Development Squad v Castile Leon District U19
The squad of 28 fit players arrived at the immaculate playing surface in Valladolid to be greeted by our Spanish hosts who were expecting a tough evening. 
The match was split into 3 x 20mins slots with all 28 players playing a part in a solid hit-out against older but much less experienced and conditioned opposition. The U17 Development squad managed to post 11 tries in total with Jones, Day, McCall-Hagan and Inglis finishing off the wide back line attacks and Bradford and Peacock completing the more direct route to the line.
Accuracy at Line Out was acceptable, as was the scrum.  This was pleasing to all especially after the specific work that has gone on at Line Out & Scrum Club. The contact area was quick and accurate at times but there is work to be done in the technique and decision making of the support players. The organisation and speed of thought is also an area that the coaches will focus on over the next couple of sessions but, in general, a very good opportunity for the coaches and players to get a measure of where this squad of players actually is.  Video Analyst Roddy Deans was quick to get the video and match stats ready for the boys to analyse their own performances over the next few days.  All players managed to get through the hit-out relatively unscathed, with Wem and Hislop taking a couple of heavy shots so they will be on light duties for a day or so.
Look out for the players blog over the next couple days – this group are desperate for work & this hit out has really benefited the program!

Scotland U17 Development Squad

POSITION                   START          2ND PERIOD    FINISH
TH Prop                      Hislop                                 Allan
Hooker                       McFarlane     Hood               Turner
LH Prop                      Robertson                           Cessford
2nd Row                     Wem                                  Wem
2nd Row                     Ferguson                            Barns
BS Flank                     Nagle                                 Ferguson
OS Flank                     Walker                               Peacock
No 8                           Peacock                             Eadie
Scrum Half                  Munro         Adams             McConnell 
Stand Off                    Gillies                                Bradford
Left Wing                    Beckwith     Jones               Crawley
IS Centre                    Bradford     Day                  Bennett
OS Centre                   Hogg          Crawley            Urquart
Right Wing                  Inglis                                 Inglis
Full Back                     McCall-Hagan                     Jones

The squad prepares for a friendly with the local U19 district side 

Day 7 - Game Day
"It was here.  The hit-out was upon us.  With the usual 8 o’clock breakfast, the routine hadn’t changed from a normal day.  However, firmly ingrained in everyone’s mind was the fact that today was arguably the most important of the trip:  match day.
The groups did their morning weights as usual, with the match looming.  As the forwards had a crucial last minute lineout session, the backs enjoyed their much-deserved rest.
The mood at lunch was relatively relaxed, however with the announcement of our playing numbers and the collection of our strips, apprehension began to build.
The daily post-lunch siesta provided some shut-eye which would prove vital in the hours to come.
The pre-match meal at 5pm emphasised how close-by the fixture was.  Before we knew it the first ball was flying through the air and as the starting team began to chase, their eager replacements observed, hoping their team-mates would perform.
A strong start, followed by slightly less convincing middle, and concluded by a return to the intensity of the beginning was the shape in which the game took.  However with comfortable victory there were smiles all round.
The chance to mingle with players from not only another team but another country, was taken up by many as the night drew to a close.  We had a quick meal to replenish the energy debt from the game and gave a fond farewell to two members of the coaching team.  A long, hard day, but a day none of us will forget."

The squad takes time out to visit some local sights 

Day 6
"After several days of pushing our bodies mentally and physically , we were afforded the luxury of an extra hour in bed and the morning to do as we pleased.
We were given the option of either staying at the hotel and organising games of table tennis/wii, going to the supermarket or getting a bus into Valladolid town centre.
The latter sounded most appealing and it turned out to be very popular and an enjoyable chilled out morning.
The town is a large mix of bustling movement set against a quaint backdrop of inspiring architecture and it served as the perfect way to escape and switch off from clearing rucks and making line breaks.
We were able to extend our relaxed morning past lunchtime when most players caught up on some extra sleeping time during the siesta, allowing everybody to arrive at training newly refreshed and full of energy.
Forwards and backs after splitting and focussing on specific skills re-joined to run through some phase play in anticipation of the next day’s match.
A team meeting concluded our day as the coaching staff game everyone a timely reminder about hydration and let us leave with some words about the task still ahead."

Mitch celebrates his 17th birthday in camp

Day 5
"By now, we’re all settling into the routine of things here.  After breakfast we were put through our paces in the gym by Val and Derrick.  The usual dip in the pool provided ample opportunity to loosen off the muscles. 
Just before lunch the forwards and backs split.  The forwards went off to practice some lineouts while the backs returned to the gym to lie around on the floor in odd positions making odd noises – otherwise known as back and shoulder injury prevention work – a crucial part of the modern game.
Our afternoon consisted of the precious siesta – I think we are all beginning to appreciate how important rest is in this sort of environment.
Our evening rugby session was an absolute scorcher however everyone got stuck into the contact and enjoyed.  The head was intense and the factor 50 was out in force, especially for the paler members of the squad.  We all now also appreciate the meaning of the word ‘hydration’ as it seemed gallons of fluid were taken on board.
After dinner we had a short team meeting which ended with a fantastic rendition of Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by the day’s birthday boy, Mitch Eadie. 
The Connect 4 was well contested yet the quality of play was very poor indeed.  As always, the ping pong table drew large crowds with, surprisingly, the Glasgow forwards proving to be the guys to beat.
Overall a very tiring yet fun and rewarding day." 

Even training from 6pm to 8pm in the evening the sun is hot and hydration is vitally important 

Day 4 
"The day began, as usual, with an 8 o’clock breakfast, however today would be different because of a double rugby session, as opposed to one gym, one rugby.
The first rugby session started at 10am.  The forwards were made to do much needed sprint training for the first hour, whilst the backs ran through some moves.  For the second hour of the session, the much more able group did the sprint training and the forwards practices their scrummaging. 
Post session we were made to take a dip in the university 50m pool, where we were training.  This exposed some questionable swimming abilities from some members of the squad!
After lunch came siesta, which is increasingly becoming our highlight of the day.  Siesta seemed to pass too quickly as we prepared for our first heavy contact session of the training camp. This began with body shape in contact drills and then progressed onto some live contact drills.  The session passed smoothly without any serious knocks and everyone really enjoyed it.  Once again, after the session, ice baths were deployed to aid recovery, however this time Derrick (fitness coach) managed to avoid flooding the changing room.
The nightly team meeting, following dinner, was led again by Grant McKelvey, our head coach.  He used some interesting images to reflect where we are as a squad – his two dogs!  We all then headed to bed for 11.30pm, however tonight there was no noise from wedding receptions so everyone got a good nights’ sleep."

Day 3
"Waking up this morning with no aches or pains made everyone realise that the icebaths were worth it after all.  After all rugby/gym sessions we always recover by splashing around in the hotel pool which surprisingly works! The workload itself has been tough but the siestas have helped so much.  Definitely another thing we’ll bring back to Edinburgh with us after the camp. Last night at the hotel there were two wedding receptions which partied late on into the night.  Luckily Kirsty, the Team Manager, had earplugs at hand to muffle Ricky Martin’s ‘She Bangs’ which must have been on a loop! Tomorrow is the formidable ‘double rugby’, which will surely put the squad through its paces. "

Day 2
"Today we were up at 7.30 just before our breakfast at 8.  For breakfast it was cereal and toast and also some fruit - the food wasn’t bad.  After breakfast, back to the room to get ready for our gym session followed by the pool.  The gym was enjoyable then we were taken for recovery in the pool.  After that we rested until lunch at 2 o clock - large pieces of ham with a red sauce and we also had beef that was really nice. After lunch we had a siesta from 3 until 4.39 - you do feel much better after it - then I had to see Jules the physio to get tape for my hands for training.  Then we got a bus to take us to the university where we did our evening training session.  At training we did mostly hand drills followed by introducing squad calls and then we were introduced to scrum club - this helps us develop our scrummaging techniques as well as our body positions and teaches us about all aspects of scrummaging.  After training we got showered, got back on the bus, returned to the hotel and went to dinner. Straight after, we had a team meeting to round off the day.  At the team meeting we discussed how the day went and also set up a code of conduct that everyone has to stick to.  After the meeting we went back to our rooms and went to bed."

Day 1
Today we travelled to Valladolid in Spain. Very interesting day, meeting up with all the new players and the new management team and, then again, getting to see all the familiar faces from Millfield.  It was great to meet up with everyone to see what has been happening with them over the last couple of months.

We were the duty group today and had to look after all the team kit bags and cases - 27 - that were being taken as well as our own. We were required to make sure they got on the plane, and collected and checked at the other side and put onto the bus for travelling to the hotel.  Then at the hotel we made sure all the bags were taken off the bus and put into the team room.

We were given a task to do at the airport which was to write down the qualities in a perfect teammate.  This helped each of us get to know the other members of our duty groups better and say what we expected of each other throuought the trip. A lot of thought went into our ideas which will help us work together well and get te most out of the two weeks.

Hotel is really nice - looks like training is going to be tough..."