|Jason Leonard's visit (and his friend from the British Lions)|
There was a very good turn out of Mini and Junior players for the Sunday's visit of legendary former England prop forward Jason Leonard. The visit marked the start of the RBS Six Nations Roadshow, Jason is the celebrity at the front of the promotion and Keswick RFC was chosen by RBS and the RFU to be the launchpad.
Two nights hard frost put paid to the scheduled matches so Keswick improvised alternative training based on extremely sketchy information. When four separate training sessions commenced for Under-10, under-12s, under 14s and Under -17s at 10-30am, there was a request for the players to stick around for longer than usual and preserve a bit of energy and enthusiasm for Jason's arrival sometime later.
Once the media-event organizers became aware of the need to establish and maintain a relationship with those responsible for the coaching of the Keswick players the event ran as smoothly as any improvised operation can. Once the timetable became clear the players were informed and sessions were modified accordingly. Thanks to the use of appropriately timed breaks, and varied activity, even the very young players were able to maintain stamina and the four hour attention span required. There is no doubt that the glorious sunny weather helped this process, as did the superb condition of the Davidson Park pitches. Above all the happy atmosphere was inspired by the contribution of Keswick Coaches Andy Partington, Kay and Paul Clarke, Howard Winter, Gary Metcalfe, Iain MacPherson, Phil Harrison, Peter Robinson, and Alan Weightman whose dedicated attitude and skill preserved attention and concentration and inspired a wonderful final presentation. This was presided over by Jason Leonard himself who arrived bang on time at 2-00 pm. Mercifully the official pleasantries were kept to a minimum and Jason was soon mixing amongst the players.
There were cameras galore present, a media scrum in fact, and lots of stills of groups with Jason and then with Jason and The Mayor and Mayoress were taken. Then the Keswick players, firstly the minis, and then the under-14s were coached in passing and alignment skills The Keswick players were on song, Jason led the session with calm authority and hardly a single pass was dropped during two highly skilled demonstrations. The demonstration was filmed by Sky TV who also recorded interviews with figures central and less central to the event.
In addition to rugby skills Keswick players displayed impeccable patience and manners. The older under-17 group trained for 3 and a half hours and didn't voice a word of complaint when they were told that because of time constraints they would not be required to perform in front of the cameras.
The unheralded but not unexpected arrival of former Scotland and British Lion rugby International Doddie Weir on Sunday afternoon provided an additional boost and when he assumed control of the groups waiting to go in front of the cameras it re-charged player morale and enabled the Keswick coaches to go and get something to eat.
The flood clean up operation which was notionally the centerpiece of the RBS initiative, but which, as expected, took second place to the rugby content, gave Doddie a chance to drive Jason and his helpers to the clean up site in the club tractor. The clean up lasted for as long as it took the media to shoot as much film as they needed. Jason retired to the clubhouse where he signed autographs, chatted with loads of people and shifted a pile of