Well, so much for a quiet week away from it all. Our trip to Queenstown did not exactly go to plan with the fuss about our night out hogging most of the headlines.
Personally, I think it was a massive overreaction. We’ve been training hard for months and were allowed to go out for a few beers after a really hard game against Argentina. But before you know it, we’re in the papers and that is so disappointing. There was the tragedy with the miners in Wales but in many cases the England rugby team going out for a few beers is the top story.
Things like that only make you stronger and bring the squad closer together. It's not like we weren't supposed to be out because that day had been set aside for some R & R. We have trained incredibly hard over the last few months and don’t feel guilty about going out and getting away from the pressure of the tournament because you need to escape that intensity once in a while.
It soured what was a great week in what is an amazing place. The training facilities were great and all the time we were surrounded by these spectacular mountains. We had a fantastic view from our hotel and from my window all I could see was the lake and the mountains in front of me - I loved it so much I slept with the curtains open so I could wake up to that view every day!
It may well be the adrenalin capital of New Zealand but I didn’t go too crazy in terms of activities. But that’s not to say I didn’t have a taste of the excitement on offer. A few of us had this fantastic helicopter ride on the way to an appearance at a local school that took us into the mountains but that was just the start of a great afternoon. We landed in the school field to be greeted by the lads performing the haka before putting their first XV through their paces in a training session.
It is great to be able to do things like that in the community and give something back as we were made to feel so welcome during our stay. The kids appeared to really enjoy it and so did we. With the World Cup action happening in the big towns, I think they loved the chance to feel part of the buzz.
Steve Thompson writes exclusively for ESPNscrum.com, one of the world’s leading Rugby websites. To read the column in full, visit www.espnscrum.comReuse content