Tom Rees Column
The ego takes a battering
Tom Rees
December 31, 2009
Is that Gene Simmons or Simon Shaw? © Getty Images

So a merry Christmas has passed and a happy New Year will soon follow it. I was fortunate enough this year to be given the Christmas week off (although given my injury was the reason, the term fortunate is up for debate) and so avoided the traditional rugby player version of the festive season. This would normally entail training all the way through to lunchtime on Christmas Eve, after which the last minute shopping can be done before shooting home to the family. The evening will be spent with friends, watching them get drunk before they go out, at which point you'd head home to do the last minute wrapping.

Christmas Day will be pretty traditional with just the nagging thought in the back of your mind that three helpings of Christmas pudding is not the ideal preparation for a game on Boxing Day! So this year, I had all my shopping done in advance, was able to enjoy a few (several) drinks, stuff my face with pudding, and to top it all off, there was loads of good sport to watch on the TV. The only downside I can think of is the extra inches a diet of mince pies and chocolate has added to my waistline.

Whilst I might have had a full week away from the Club, I have had rehab work to continue with and now that my range of movement is sufficient, I am at the point where I can start doing weights to build up the strength in my shoulder. This has given me huge boost as the gains that I'm making are visible, not just day to day, but from each rep of the exercises. I feel I can see a return to playing, where as up to now the thought of just trying to throw a pass, let alone tackle anyone, has been enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. Being away from Wasps has meant that I've had to find another gym to use for this rehab, and at the local sports centre my satisfaction was tempered by the denting of my ego. There I was, a professional rugby player - a slightly chubby one but a professional none the less - struggling to do ten press ups, whilst the people around me (women included) threw around weights with an embarrassing ease. One of the most important principles of training is its not about your ego; it doesn't matter if someone else can do more, you have to train at the level that pushes your limits whilst remaining safe. I had to keep reminding myself of this as the small teenager next to me used three times the weight I did.

"If you were around west London you may have seen a group of Transformers waiting for the bus, members of Kiss propping up the bar in a pub or He-Man and Skelator having a sword fight in the street."

On the rugby front, the last few weeks have been successful ones for Wasps. Back to back wins against Bayonne in the European Challenge Cup have put us in control of our Pool, and victory against Harlequins at Twickenham will see us nicely into the New Year where we face Newcastle at home on Sunday. Newcastle are a team that many will have written off after last year when they lost a lot of their well known names, but some clever signings of a mix of established and young players, has seen them become the dark horses of the season so far.

As the New Year rolls round, there are many things for players to think about. It's the halfway stage of the Guinness Premiership, the culmination of the Anglo-Welsh and European group stages, and the prospect of selection for the Six Nations will be keeping everybody busy, so finding time for resolutions will be pretty hard. Mine is simple enough - start eating a proper diet, but with plenty of Christmas cake still to finish that one might not kick in till February.

So to round the year off, I will finish with that other great institution of the festive period, the office Christmas party. Our event at Wasps this year was fancy dress which presented many entertaining sights, although readers of my last entry will know that names won't be mentioned for our own safety. If you were around west London you may have seen some of the following: A group of Transformers waiting for the bus, members of Kiss propping up the bar in a pub, He-Man and Skelator having a sword fight in the street, David Bowie and a one man band in a chip shop with a giant baby or perhaps shared a bus with all of the above whilst they gave a stirring rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.

With that I'll wish you all a happy New Year and all the best for 2010.

Wasps & England flanker Tom Rees writes a fortnightly column for ESPNscrum

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