17 May 13
Harlequins has confirmed an exciting group of pre-season fixtures as it prepares for the start of the 2013-14 season.
Based in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby Club, also sponsored by Etihad Airways, has over 1600 members from age groups Under 5 to Under 19 in the junior section, plus men, veteran and women in the senior section.
Rory and Alistair arrived on Saturday 14th February to watch Quins beat London Irish at the Madejski Stadium, and then spent the week shadowing the playing department at the Roehampton training ground. They enjoyed a busy week, analysing the London Irish performance, and preparing for the crucial Guinness Premiership victory over Gloucester. The coaches also got involved with some of the Academy training sessions, the Mighty Quins Training Day, and witnessed what was involved in terms of strength and conditioning for the squad on a weekly basis.
Commenting on their experience Rory Greene said: "We had a fantastic week at Quins and we would like to thank all those involved in helping make this happen and for letting us get a glimpse into life at a professional rugby club. Dean and all the guys in his backroom team were great and we really appreciated them allowing us into the 'inner sanctum'. It's been an incredibly interesting week and getting an idea of how these guys train and what they do on a daily basis is very useful for us. We can now go back to Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby Club with some of those idea's and implement them there to help to continue improving the standard of rugby in the Middle East. I don't think we're too wide of the mark back here and that is encouraging in itself but having the experience to say 'this is what the guys at Quins do' powerfully reinforces what we are coaching them.
"Our relationship with Quins is one that we are very proud of and it undoubtedly helps develop rugby and interest at home, so once again many thanks for having us."
Reflecting on his experience Alistair Thompson said: "I feel very lucky to have been given such a wonderful opportunity. You often wonder how professional athletes spend their time, but having lived in their footsteps for a week, they lead a very structured lifestyle on and off the field. It was very interesting to see the time that goes into preparing for each game; the pre-game analysis and development of winning strategies, the meetings with the team psychologist regarding game body language the previous week and the reconstruction of the game plan on the training field. I was surprised at how much ownership the players are given; each week a group of players is given the task of reviewing the game tape of the team they are playing the following week. They have to highlight strengths, weaknesses and possible strategies to win. I was also surprised at much emphasis there was on just developing strategies to win the next game, as opposed to improving the skills of each player individually. On the training field, the communication was deafening and the intensity was high; something which I think is probably, alongside the skill level and power, the biggest difference between the professional and amateur game."
On hosting the Abu Dhabi Harlequins Coaches for the week, Harlequins Director of Rugby Dean Richards said: "It was a pleasure to have Rory and Ali at Quins for the week. It hugely enhances the relationship Quins have with Abu Dhabi Harlequins Rugby Club, and if they learnt a few things from us, then great. They both certainly slotted into the team very easily and it was a delight to have them."