Wiltshire based Royal Engineers have hosted a team building exercise at Swinton Barracks, Perham Down for the London Broncos Rugby League Team.
Soldiers from 22 Engineer Regiment (22RE) have put the Super League players through their paces in a military exercise designed to challenge them both mentally and physically.
The 28 squad members swapped their sports kit for combats as they immersed themselves in a three-day pre-season training programme on the edge of Wiltshire’s Salisbury Plain Training Area.
Staff Sergeant Mike Thompson, 22RE Rugby League Officer has been instrumental in organising the exercise which focused on military physical training (PT) methods using command tasks and teamwork techniques, weapon handling, survivability plus basic fieldcraft giving the Broncos a condensed look at Army life.
He said: “The physical challenges we have set up for them are completely different to what they train for, something they’re not used to doing. As professional sportsmen the Broncos are robust, fit individuals but can they carry 90kgs between six people over a set distance up-hill?”
With less than a month before the start of the league Head Coach Danny Ward wanted an intensive training camp that would challenge his squad, he said:
“We have a good relationship with the Army, so I approached them and asked them to make it tough, make it uncomfortable, take them out of their comfort zone. Put them into a different environment, give them a bit of adversity to see what happens.
“There are a lot of skills that are transferable between the Army and what we do but I think they will find the sleep deprivation the toughest. Everyone gets a bit cranky when they are tired, that is what we want, to see who handles it the best.”
“These last few days has been a great opportunity for us and the Regiment to grow an affiliation, we have similar values, we are all a very disciplined tight knit bunch, the culture you create as a club stands you in good stead for the season, its all about the winning culture, work mentality and work ethic.”
Despite the overnight temperatures of minus five, the players embraced the ‘soldiering’ by staying out in two-man shelters, cooking 24-hour ration packs, whilst providing guard sentry for a simulated army infiltration.
Eddie Battye said of his experience, “I’m pretty tired, we all had a rough night’s sleep, we think pre-season training is hard but what the Army guys do is just another level. When we find it tough and our backs are against the wall we can look back at what we’ve done here these last few days and get through it and get to the other side.”
These sentiments were echoed by his fellow team mate, Rob Butler, “Camp has been really good, definitely not an experience I thought I’d have but it has opened up my eyes and given me another perspective of how things are done. The PT was tough, very tough, hats off to all the soldiers who are doing it, respect for everyone doing it in the Army.”