For five days, last week, a quiet corner of south Devon became a little bit – more – of Worcestershire as one of the county’s greatest sporting heroes, Nigel Mansell, played host to a few dozen more. The Warriors.
The boys in gold and blue had a change of scenery and stepped up yet another gear as the start of what could be the best Guinness Premiership season the Sixways faithful have seen.
The first team squad spent a week at the Baughton-born racer’s beautiful Woodbury Park hotel complex, and made the most of the time and opportunity to build on six weeks of intense pre-season training in the heat of Sixways.
Tonight’s match against Viadana will bring a first glimpse of what it has done for fitness and team spirit. If the mood in the camp was anything to judge by, that will be a lot.
The tough five-day programme included daily skills, strength and speed sessions that will begin to bear fruit in front of 10,000 passionate Worcester fans when the season starts in the reshaped stadium against Bristol on Saturday, September 2.
The successful trip ended with an afternoon of McGympics, a unique series of sports — organised by the Fortey brothers — which saw four teams compete in events as diverse as kicking golf, egg-catching, chin and press-ups and soccer, and ended with a swimming gala in front of delighted hotel guests.
“We’ve got a lot of things sorted out this week,” Director of Rugby John Brain reported, who knows his squad are itching to return to match action.
“It’s very important that the players understand more about each other, and also about the sort of qualities we’re going to need as a group to be successful. We’ve had some very, very good rugby sessions. The facilities here are very good and I think it’s all leading in the right direction for us.”
Head coach Anthony Eddy echoed the feeling.
“The young blokes in particular have stepped up,” he added. “They’ve always had respect, but they’ve earned a lot more for the way they’ve trained and the way they’ve handled themselves.”
The squad didn’t only score a success on the training pitch, however.
“All the managers, staff and guests across the complex have said that the guys have been impeccable,” explained business development manager Joe Hammond.
“Anyone who’s had any contact with the team has found them chatty and polite. It’s been brilliant. Not every team we have here is like that. It’s been a pleasure.”