Being told by the club that we were being sent home from training due to a pandemic seemed a bit surreal when all of this started.
It was the week after the Worcester game on the Monday morning when reports of COVID-19 reached the club, we were told to return home and await further instruction. I feel like I would be speaking on behalf of the players back then, but I did not think this would last the amount of time it has. In my head I thought this would blow over and we would be back up and running within a few weeks.
It has been a strange time for everybody over the past 3 months, some people have still been busy still at work while others being furloughed. For us rugby players it has been difficult; there have been no games or training but we have all had to stay disciplined. We had to keep up with our strength and fitness up as we didn’t have a time frame for when we would return. We could have returned back to training after 3 weeks or 3 months. So, staying motivated has been hard.
Over the past few weeks, it has been an exciting time as we heard the announcement that rugby would be aiming to return on the 15th August. This has been the longest time I have been away from rugby since turning pro at 18, even with long term injuries you are still around the lads and keeping up with rehab, so the announcement of a return date was great.
Northampton have done a great job at organizing training over the last 3 to 4 weeks ensuring all the protocols and guidelines from the government/governing bodies are met.
Before we returned to the club, we were given a run down of how things were going to work, from, where we were to park before training to what we had to do during the sessions. Since returning last Monday, everything has been very different to what we are used to, we are in small groups of 5-8 players and not allowed within 2 metres of each other so as you can imagine it is completely different to what we are used to with Rugby being a contact sport.
Gym sessions are spaced out with every player having a rack each to lift in, all equipment needed is in your area so there is no need to move around. I personally feel like it taught a few lads how to clean properly as after each session we are all made to wipe and spray down all the equipment we have used during that session. Once our gym session is finish, we are straight out onto the playing pitches, were our complete fitness and skills take place. Being able to pass a ball among players within your group has been a blessing, it means we have all been up to work on our hand eye coordination as well as getting fitter and stronger.
Last week was tough getting back into the daily routine of exercising, especially when trying to adapt to the new layout. During a normal preseason we would have to opportunity to get physio treatment or use recovery equipment but with the way things are at the moment it is down to us as players to ensure our bodies have recovered enough to be ready for the next tough day. It takes a while to get the body moving again but now were up and running, I am looking forward to the next 7 weeks leading up to the return of games. It gives the players an opportunity to get better and work on themselves before entering the crucial stages of the season.
We were in a good place before the season paused so hopefully we can start the season up again where we left it and progress into the final stages. It has been a time of mixed emotions over the previous month, with players coming and going and returning to training. There are players who are leaving that have been a huge part of the club for many years and is very sad seeing them leave. But when one door closes another one opens and the players, we have brought in for the coming season look great and will give a lot to our squad hopefully giving us the best opportunity to win some silverware.
I really hope everyone is well and looking after themselves in these tough times. Fingers crossed everything goes to plan and we have some rugby back on the TV in August.