You may be putting in the hours, but you could be wasting your time! We caught up with Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Tuks Blue Bulls Rugby Academy, Rob Joynson
BODYTEC: Tell us about your work with some of our top athletes?
ROB JOYSON: I am a Strength and Conditioning Coach for Tuks Rugby, responsible directly for Tuks second team and the Tuks Blue Bulls Rugby Academy. I am also a former junior provincial rugby player of the Blue Bulls. I no longer play the sport, however training in general is my passion and as a result I still maintain two training sessions per day.
BT: What does this entail?
RJ: Power and strength endurance and cardiovascular endurance type exercises. I have also trained at BODYTEC in the past. It was an opportunity to further my knowledge in another fitness-associated area. Having the opportunity to see the theory from my degree come to life through practical application in this form was, for me, positively challenging as it allowed my mind to think up ways in which EMS could be applied in an athlete or sport specific manner.
BT: What specific training is needed for a contact sport like rugby?
RJ: It’s vital that the body is conditioned in such a way that it can withstand constant impact, while preventing injury. I would say a large emphasis is placed on strength training for muscle mass increase and maintenance done through correct training procedures to ensure the body can absorb the shock or handle the required level of impact. Range of motion in joints and muscles, thus flexibility, is vital. If a player is struck from an awkward direction, his body needs be able to flex in that direction without causing a tear. Overall injury prevention and body longevity is an important objective.
BT: What other sport do your encourage your guys to do?
RJ: Most of the rugby players I work with are at a high enough level where specialisation is required, and a large chunk of their effort and training needs to be invested into enhancing their ability for their chosen sport of rugby. However on a recreational level, we often see the guys turning their hand towards a casual round of golf as a means of relaxation during their off time. I can’t give testament as to how good they might be, but I would definitely pay good money to see some of the bigger guys try and demonstrate a gentle finesse while trying to hit a little white ball!
BT: Is attitude or skill more important?
RJ: There are many conflicting answers to this question; I believe that a perfect balance between the two is required. Many players can have the best attitude, but lack the skill or aptitude that is required for the specific sport. On the other hand, there is evidence of great players with all the skill one could ask for and a poor attitude has led to their downfall on the field. I believe a player requires a certain skill level, however it is the right attitude that will allow this skill to bloom at its highest possible level.
BT: How has rugby changed in the past 10 years, in your view?
RJ: Over the past 10 years the sport of rugby has evolved in terms of rules, professionalism and also spectator demand. The rules have changed to allow the game to flow faster and occur on a more technical level. Professionalism in the sport now means the players are paid more and can now invest themselves solely into being a rugby player. Finally, spectator demand suggests that the fans want a faster game with bigger tackles and a world craving for bigger and meaner looking players. As a result of the mentioned factors the players are now trained to be bigger and faster, meaning we now train players not just to be big, but also to be athletic. Also with the advancement in sports science, and through historical research and understanding, we now know what the demands are of each individual position in the team and apply that to what somatotype a person may be and guide them into a better suited position, all in an effort to breed better rugby players.
BT: What’s the biggest mistake you see with athletes you train?
RJ: I would say the biggest error that players make, on both a sport and recreational level, is training in a non-sport specific manner. Often players train with more emphasis or drive to look good, rather than to perform well.