Go East! It is snowing there.

Since my last blog, I have become the full-time head coach at Dartmouth College.

That means I have left the sunshine and outdoor lifestyle of Los Angeles, California for the snow and baltic temperatures of Hanover, New Hampshire.

That either makes me stark raving mad - or very committed to my work.

I like to think it is the latter!

If I was going to leave the west coast, I didn't want to come over here for a short-term contract because I wanted my wife Jess to come with me and commit to a life here as well.

When Dartmouth came up with a long-term contract, I decided to go for it and Jess has moved up here with me. Without her, I wouldn’t have done it.

The weather has taken some getting used to - as you can see in the pictures.

Ex Ireland international hooker Gavin Hickie has got to get used to the snow of the US East coast, a far cry from the weather of the 6 Nations.

The weather in Hanover USA is a lot colder than when Gavin played for Ireland in the 6 Nations.

But the small town of Hanover (population around 5,000) that we live in is lovely and the environment and ethos of this hugely successful academic college is something that is a pleasure to be around.

There is also the added factor that we are actually very good at rugby here at Dartmouth and that makes it a whole lot more enjoyable, especially when the College views the sport so seriously.

I had ambitions to get into collegiate rugby and Dartmouth has been one of the best teams in the country over the past two years, playing against the likes of Yale and Harvard.

There is not the lifestyle of California but the sense of community here is something that I could never get on the west coast and the setting for our rugby field is very dramatic. Unfortunately at the minute, there is so much snow on the ground and the weather has been so cold that we have been training inside most of the time.

The weather certainly does not stop us doing what is necessary to improve ourselves as a team though. We don’t play until March when we tour Ireland but we are still training five days a week.

Out last action was winning the Ivy League Northern Conference back in November as we went through the four-month season unbeaten. It would have been 100 per cent too had we not drew at home to Brown University. That result still leaves a bitter taste in mouth but the guys can be very proud of another very successful campaign.

While all that is going on, time is ticking before the USA Under-20s debut in the Junior World Cup this summer after promotion from the Junior World Trophy. My role as forwards coach means that I am right in the thick of preparations of that which will step up a notch now the New Year is here.

Playing South Africa in our first game will be probably the biggest test we could ever imagine.

Here at Dartmouth though, there is plenty of rugby to be played before that.


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