On Friday 11th October, the senior girls rugby team travelled to Shanghai American School Pudong for a two-day rugby invitational fixture featuring boys and girls teams from Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.
After a long drive to the other side of Shanghai, the girls did a thorough warm up and started their first match strongly with some direct running that the opposition were struggling to defend. However, after being penalised by the referee on numerous occasions for mistakes around the ruck, they had little possession in the first half. Despite the lack of possession, the girls defended well with some very physical tackling. The girls quickly learnt from their mistakes in the first half and managed to keep the ball and score three second half tries to win the game.
The second match saw more physicality in defence and a continued development in their understanding of the game. The team had the confidence to experiment and try new skills out in the game, introducing kicking into the game. Ultimately though, they lost to the better team in a very close match.
Post-match, the girls earned a deserved trip to a local shopping mall for some food and team bonding. There was a big emphasis on bring the team together and understanding that what happens off the rugby pitch can be just as important in bringing the team together as what happens on it.
Another big part of the tour was understanding how to improve recovery after matches. Being able to play two days of rugby in a row is a big demand physically and mentally for any player, so they were all encouraged to get the right nutrition, drink lots of water and get a lot of good quality rest. They were also shown how use techniques such as self-massage and educated about contrasting water therapy to further aid recovery.
On the second day, the girls were ready to go again despite a physical day of rugby the day before. Some of the team were sore but they didn’t let it show in their third match of the weekend, recording another win. Throughout the match the whole team left everything on the pitch, constantly running back to make cover tackles and not letting the other team have a chance to score a try. After the match the girls were starting to get tired and then struggled in their final match of the weekend. In a match that they lost, not a single player ever gave up and did everything they could to stay in the game with another very good performance.
After the matches, numerous opposition coaches and referees who have seen the girls team play over the last couple of seasons were quick to approach the Wycombe Abbey coaches and comment on how much the team have improved. This is ultimately down to the team themselves dedicating themselves to training and constantly striving to get better and understand the game more.
Despite arriving back on Saturday evening and feeling tired and sore, the work did not stop. Sunday afternoon was dedicated to some game analysis, where the team had a chance to watch some video footage of themselves from the weekend and look for areas where they could improve. The whole team then had a recovery session to help reduce any muscle soreness and get them ready to go again for their training in the coming week.