Here is the first installment of Scotland Back-rower Richie Vernon’s Rugby World Cup Diary, exclusively for Scottish Rugby Blog:
“Since hearing the news last Sunday that I was heading to my first Rugby World Cup it has been a hectic week and a half but a great one.
“After the squad announcement I headed back to Dundee for a few days to see my family before we flew off. My parents were obviously delighted at the news and after some rigorous fitness sessions over the summer all the hard work is more than worth it for the chance to represent Scotland on the biggest stage possible.
“Wednesday night we were back in camp in Glasgow, for training at Scotstoun, for the next couple of days. For me, it was great to be back to see some of the Warriors boys after what has been a long summer for them too. We got a perfect send off on Thursday where we had a Scotland squad dinner in aid of the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Fund and it was a great night. Given clear instructions that we could have a couple of drinks but we must be able to train the next day, it was a chance for us to relax before we headed off and the night was a real success with around £40,000 raised for charity and a seemingly good time had by all.
“The next day we trained at Scotstoun again, watched by 1200 kids. The kids had arrived from local schools and although some might have seen it as a good chance to skip some class, all were enthusiastic at the chance to meet the squad. In signing sessions like this there is one player sought after more than anyone else and this one was no different with Richie Gray masks everywhere.
“The kids flocked to him for signatures and were obviously delighted when they got it. One of the squad even over-heard when one of the kids was asked by his friend who the mask was depicting replied, ‘I don’t know but all the others are rubbish’. An interesting appraisal of our current squad!
“The next day we started our journey to Sanctuary Cove, near the Gold Coast in Australia. With most flying in business class (and a few lucky ones in first) it was 30 odd hours of genuine comfort. The only problem was the constant supply of food, and with our nutritionist headed out on an earlier flight, the boredom got the better of most with a few extra KGs put on by the next morning’s weigh in.
“In terms of the films watched on the flight, Justin Bieber fever spread throughout the squad as his film was the surprise hit. All in all the journey passed uneventfully and a very tired group of men in need of a wash arrived at the hotel, Monday morning at around 3 am Brisbane time.
“Tuesday we got up early for a tour around our fantastic resort. The fact it was 25 degrees and sunny led a few of the boys to question whether Dan Parks and Nathan Hines knew what Scotland was like before they came over. Neither did. Everything we need is on site and with places like ‘Surfers Paradise’ just 30 minutes away the temptation might be to relax. However after getting back into training yesterday, all eyes are now on Romania and you can feel the excitement in the squad. After an arduous pre season and two tough warm up games, that which we’ve trained for all summer is coming closer and we’re determined to hit the ground running with a good win. Over the next few days I’m sure the intensity will be cranked up further with that in mind.”
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m looking forward to Scotland versus Romania on the 10th of September!