It appeared that the Rice football coaches' goal of breaking the jet lag from the long journey to Australia by keeping everyone up yesterday worked as planned; the Owls woke up Wednesday refreshed and ready to go.
The morning started off with team meetings at the team hotel and a hot breakfast before heading back to the David Phillips Sports Complex on the campus of the University of New South Wales for a second day of practice and a full day's worth of activities. The team will practice every day leading up to Sunday's (Saturday in the U.S.) Sydney Cup game against Stanford; tomorrow they'll add a weight-lifting session at a rugby training facility.
Today the Owls welcomed Nick Walshaw to the team's practice. Walshaw, who is a journalist with the Daily Telegraph, is covering the team for the rest of the week. Walshaw almost exclusively covers the National Rugby League. As he explained, rugby is the national sport "if you ask people here in Sydney," he said. "Now, if you ask people in Melbourne, they will tell you Australian Rules Football." The 16-team rugby league is winding down and will be having their playoffs in the coming weeks, so he was glad to get a break and cover us for a little bit, he said.
Other media covering today's practice were Jodie Newell and Tom Ramsey with ESPN. Ramsey will provide commentary on the network's coverage of the Rice-Stanford game noon Sunday (9 p.m. CDT Saturday in the U.S.) at Allianz Stadium.
Also attending practice were Stephen and Tonya Trammell, the parents of freshman wide receiver and punt returner Austin Trammell. Along with a group of approximately 40 other Rice Owl parents, the Trammells arrived in Sydney this morning.
"We were absolutely blown away that Rice would be featured on this level," Stephen Trammell said. "Being here today watching the team practice is so surreal for us -- that we're actually in Sydney, Australia; it's a great way for him (Austin) to start his college career."
Head coach David Bailiff liked what he saw out of his Rice players today.
"It's really been outstanding," Bailiff said. "I'm impressed with how the team got up this morning. We've attacked the day -- you can't tell we had the long flight. I think these guys did a great job of being accountable to themselves on getting the sleep they needed and getting hydrated.
"The trip was more like a day of fog," he said. "We're back in our routine now. Routine is very important in football; your position meetings start at this time, you're on a bus at a certain time, so we're on our Sydney routine now and that feels good for all of us.
"Yesterday it was 102 degrees in Houston, so this is really nice to hit this cool climate and no humidity. That helps them out here too," Bailiff said.
After practice the team ate lunch at the practice facility, showered up and got ready for events at their next stop, the University of Sydney.
Upon arriving at the university, the team posed for a group photo in front of the main campus building, which led into the unique academic quad where the team would break into groups and start a walking tour of campus. The quadrangle's architecture was inspired by Oxford and Cambridge universities -- so much so that the architecture is evenly split in half, with one side representing Oxford and the other Cambridge.
Sydney Uni, as they often refer to the school, was founded in 1850 and was Australia's first university. Currently, 60,000 students attend classes in the university system, and they represent more than 130 countries; foreign students make up 30 percent of the student body. No fewer than five Australian prime ministers attended the university, including Edmund Barton, who in 1901 won Australia's first-ever federal election.
After the tour, the team gathered into a classic lecture hall, where Sydney-based U.S. Consulate General Valerie Fowler welcomed Rice to Sydney and the university. Fowler, who is an unabashed Stanford alumna, said she would be rooting for the Cardinal but also pointed out that Rice beat Stanford in 2003 to win the national championship in baseball. Fowler also explained her nonpartisan role in representing the United States in this part of the world and spoke of the wonderful relationship the U.S. and Australia share.
Following Fowler's introduction, Wayne Cotton, associate dean for the School of Education and Social Work, led a panel on American and Australian college sports. On the panel were Oliver Luck, executive vice president of regulatory affairs with the NCAA; Joe Karlgaard, Rice's director of athletics; Rob Smithies, executive director of Sydney University Sport and Fitness; and Leonie Lum, elite program manager, Sydney University Sport and Fitness.
The panel touched on a variety of topics, including the role the NCAA plays in regulating the 24 sports it oversees for its members, emerging sports in the United States, amateurism in sports, health and safety issues, scholarships, the 20-hour rule (amount of time student-athletes can be assigned to participate in sports activities) and managing student-athletes' time, among other things.
After the panel, the team was treated to dinner in the quad with members of the panel and University of Sydney faculty, students and staff.
Quick takes from Wednesday in Sydney:
Rice University photographer Tommy LaVergne shot these pictures from the team's hotel this morning.
Graduate safety Cole Thomas and freshman wide receiver Jordan Myers appeared live tonight nationally on the "Bill and Boz" television show.
Tomorrow senior center Trey Martin and senior linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee will appear nationally on the Australian version of the Today Show.
Junior punter Jack Fox and senior fullback Paine Matiscik
will appear live tomorrow on the Footy Show, which is on Fox Sports Australia.
View more photos from the Owls' second day in Sydney by using the arrows below in the Flickr gallery.