Smith hopes army life will improve London Irish's disciplineBy Alan Manicom
July 25, 2012
Brian Smith believes his London Irish players will learn all they need to know about the importance of keeping their discipline following their week with the army.
Exiles' director of rugby has taken his squad to Sir John Moore barracks in Winchester to be put through their paces ahead of the new rugby season.
Smith never again wants to witness scenes like the mass brawl that marred last May’s 52-18 home win over Gloucester, which resulted in suspensions for forwards David Paice and Ofisa Treviranus.
The London Irish boss said: “The cornerstone of our team going forward is going to be discipline.
“That was illustrated in our final game of last season when despite our big victory there was some indiscipline and we are paying the price for that. We have two players still suspended.
“A lot of teams go to places like Lanzarote in pre-season, push weights twice a day, sit on the beach and all that kind of stuff.
“This is an opportunity for our guys to see what soldiering is about and to realise how lucky they are to play rugby professionally and make a good living out of it.
“People in sport draw comparisons with the military. This was an opportunity for us to put that into perspective for our boys.
“They are staying in the barracks where the other soldiers stay and are eating the same food.
“The boys have been broken into four groups and are assigned to an officer who is getting them up in the mornings for breakfast and then delivering them to the training ground.
“We train in the mornings and then they are back in the hands of their minders.
“In the afternoon they are instructed in things like fieldcraft and army exercises in their respective platoons.
“On Thursday we will keep them out overnight and they will have to cope with a variety of ambush-type situations.
“They will have to think and work as a team.
“There are also some high-rope courses that are confidence and trust-building with team-mates.
“And there is an assault course – like a big obstacle course. The commanding officer will oversee a race on Friday.”
As part of the two-way exchange of ideas, Smith and London Irish’s new forwards coach Glenn Delaney have also given presentations to 300 new army recruits about their experiences as rugby players and coaches.