The lead up to a game in the Six Nations is one filled with passion, tension and excitement. Something former Irish prop Reggie Corrigan is more than familiar with.
Here, he gives Pundit Arena his fascinating insight into the highs and lows of being a part of a Six Nations squad in those crucial few days leading up to match day.
Sunday – The Recovery
Sunday would be the first day after Saturday’s game and the first thing you’d have to do would be a check in with the medical staff in the morning.
If there were players that needed physio they’d get that done and if you were injured, you’d get assessed pretty quickly because medical reports have to be done early.
Then in the afternoon you were usually released to be with your family for a few hours. In my day you went back into camp on the Sunday night so that everyone was together for the Monday morning.
Monday – Back Into The Groove
The Monday then we’re straight back to business.
In my experience, the early part of the week is mainly about trying to get things organised because the latter part of the week you want to reduce the amount of contact done in training.
The morning training would usually be a pitch session. We’d be up as normal, eat breakfast together, get ourselves organised and then jump on the team bus and head to training.
That day’s session would specifically be around what the coaches would have looked at for the upcoming match and what needs to be worked on, win or lose, from the previous game.
After training, we’d eat lunch and rest before the afternoon’s gym session which would be just before refuelling again. Then following dinner, there’d be a team meeting.
This would be video analysis from Saturday’s game; what happened? What errors were made? How can we address those errors?
Generally, Monday evening would be when we’d ideally have Saturday’s game done and dusted and out of our minds. A lot of time would be spent with the video analysis, both as a team and as individuals, so all in all, Monday was always one of the busiest days.
Tuesday – Team Announcement & Looking Ahead To Saturday
Similarly to Monday, Tuesday morning would begin with another pitch session, but before that, we’d be informed of the team for Saturday.
This would be during a meeting and there’d be an embargo to not let it out until lunchtime but of course, lads would have to text their families and let them know.
Anyway, the morning session might be more geared towards attack for example and things that we would be looking to work at for the upcoming game.
Those sessions were usually an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes long and after that again there’d be more light gym work, nothing too heavy, more of a maintenance session.
Following lunch, it would be back on the pitch for afternoon training, which would then lead into Tuesday evening’s video session.
This would differ from Monday in the sense that it would be focused on our opponents for the upcoming game, and that would give us a clearer indication of the gameplan we would be implementing ahead of Saturday’s match.
Again, individual analysis was available for all the players also.
Wednesday – The Rest Day
The middle of the week, Wednesday would usually be a down day.
Regardless of this, we’d still be getting up early and getting breakfast and there would more than likely be a forwards session in the morning which would be lineouts.
This would be unique as it didn’t necessarily have to be on a pitch, it could be something as simple as a piece of ground beside the hotel that you can use.
It could even be in a hall of the hotel if the weather was bad.
The rest of Wednesday then we would have off. For the Dublin lads that was a great opportunity to meet up with their families for a few hours while still being able to come back to the hotel later that evening.
For the country-based lads, they’d just try to fill the time and maybe get a few hours sleep or depending on where we were based maybe go to one of the shopping centres, or the cinema in the afternoon just to break the week.
Wednesday would also generally be the day for media. Certain players would be called upon to go to the press conference and do that side of things!
Thursday – The Traditional Team Dinner
After the joys of the Wednesday break, Thursday morning would be back into the swing of things with a morning pitch session. This would be a lot lighter than say Monday or Tuesday’s sessions and it would be a lot more curtailed in terms of contact.
The afternoon would be analysis for the upcoming game. I’m not sure if this is still the case but when I was playing the target would be to maybe go out on Thursday evening for a team dinner.
A local restaurant somewhere that would also provide us the opportunity to get away from the hotel for a few hours.
We’d be back to the hotel by maybe 9 pm or so, which would be quite early but there was a lot of sleeping done around these internationals. The training and the intensity of the week would certainly warrant it!
Friday – Pre-Game Nerves & Chats With Rala
On Friday we’d move to the team hotel closer to the ground, and the Captain’s Run would take place which would only last around half an hour.
I always enjoyed the Captain’s Run because there was no intensity about it, it was very easy going. It was always just going through the moves but it started to give you a feel of being in the Aviva and the sense of the atmosphere because by Thursday you’re picking up on the atmosphere and the excitement levels and by Friday they are definitely there!
During this time of the week, there’d be a lot of joking and messing around with lads off the pitch and on the bus, stuff to just lighten the mood a little bit because there is a lot of pressure and intensity.
Usually, Friday afternoon would consist of the age-old problem of tickets and ticket allocation!
You’d be in the hotel on the Friday and people would call in and collect tickets and you’d be having coffees in the lobby and meeting people.
It was a way of trying to take your mind off the game and the task at hand, but for me, I always found that impossible.
In the evening then there was the traditional handing out of the kit with Paddy “Rala” O’Reilly.
It would be very difficult to sleep the night before the game so lads would be killing time picking up socks and shorts or getting last minute adjustments to their studs, all that type of thing.
Generally, lads liked to hang out around there too, just shoot the breeze and chat with Rala. Rala would always be a great man for a story to help relieve the tension a little!