Scotty's guest blog

By Gav Shelton

With Alan up to his neck organising things for the big Scottys game, he asked me to do a 'guest blog' to try to give you an insight into how the players are getting ready the match.

I am currently serving in the Armed Forces and Scottys has always been a charity close to my heart. I first got involved with this match last October when I spotted on Twitter what the guys were planning to do.

Rugby is my thing, it always has been, and I got in touch with Alan to see if I could get involved with it. I could, and nearly six months later here we are, with the match just over a month away.

When you're faced with playing rugby for 25 hours, I don't think you can really prepare for it, so, for me, the training has been about getting a bit leaner and trying to constantly up my endurance levels. I'm a big guy at 6ft tall and about 18 stone, but doing what I do for a living, my fitness levels have always been good.

I've always played rugby and football in the past and haven't helped myself when I've been injured through sport and not given myself enough time to recover before playing again.

I was called to Afghanistan at short notice and it was probably a blessing in disguise in terms of losing excess weight. I lost 12 kilos in six months out there and it gave my body time to get over little niggles. My goal will be to drop from my current 107kgs to 102kgs by the time the match comes around.

When I was in Afghanistan I did a lot on my fitness and when you go for a run out there, because of the temperatures, humidity and dust, it's probably three times harder than it is here. That has helped my endurance, which will obviously be a major part of helping me complete the match. The next month will now be critical in terms of fitness. I have been in the gym doing CV stuff like rowing, on the bikes and doing circuits. The aim for myself and all the players will be to make it through the 25 hours.

It will be strange when the game kicks off. You have to remember you're not playing for 80 minutes but 25 hours, and that will be a big adjustment. The boys will have to hold themselves back from crashing in with Manu Tuilagi-type tackles or running round like Christian Wade!

From the guys taking part, something like 24 of the squads are current serving personal, about 10 are playing at a high standard and there are also ex-pros in there, so there will definitely be a competitive edge and whichever side you are playing on, you will want to win. But because of the sort of players there are, we will always be professional about it and we will have to reign ourselves in a little bit.

We have our first training session together in Leicester on Sunday, which I'm looking forward to. I think half of that will probably be about dealing with the psychology of playing for so long.

We all have the same aim and that is to last the 25 hours, break the world record and raise as much money for Scottys as we can. Despite all having the same goal, no doubt people will have a different way of achieving that and I think it will be really good to all get together on Sunday.

A lot of the boys are going to Welford Road afterwards to watch the Tigers-Wasps game. I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it, but my Mum and Dad are season-ticket holders there and I was raised on the Crumbie, so I know what it's all about.

It will be good for some of the boys who have travelled to Leicester and never been to Welford Road or experienced the atmosphere to go to the game.
I know we won't have the same sort of crowd as Tigers get, but I hope there will be a couple of thousand through the gates during the match and the support will really make a big difference to us all slogging away out there for such a great cause.

Anyway, I hope I've given you a little glimpse into where we're coming from as players and hopefully I'll be able to write more on how training is progressing before the big day.

Find out more about Scotty's Little Soldiers & the challenge.

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