When September rolls around each year, for many it means the days getting shorter, the weather starting to get wetter and colder, kids go back to school, students go back to college, and for rugby players, it means getting back into games and leaving pre-season training behind!
While pre-season may not be the most appealing part of a rugby player’s season (think lots of running and pushing yourself hard in the gym!), the Ireland Women’s Sevens management decided to add some extra elements to pre-season this year in order to make it a more varied programme for the players.
Marian Earls, Head of Fitness, National Sevens and Women’s Rugby, explained: “The players had a bit of a break after the (Olympic qualifying) tournament in UCD, which was important as it’s a long season. When we were designing the pre-season programme for the players we wanted to make sure that the players worked hard in pre-season, but also enjoyed it.
“We looked at what type of sports and activities we could do that would have an added element of fun, while also helping the players build their strength and fitness levels.”
With that in mind, the players (and management) departed Lansdowne Road and headed off for a high intensity spinning class which pushed the players and management’s fitness levels in a fun and friendly atmosphere.
The players then took part in a number of classes in Mixed Martial Arts classes in Straight Blast Gym.
They were taken through a number of manoeuvres such as how to stay on your feet, grappling, and how to evade your opponent, as well as getting to grips with the monkey bars.
Women’s Sevens player Megan Williams took part in the sessions and can certainly see how they will benefit the side later on in the year. She said: “The work we did out in SBG will definitely be beneficial when we get back into competitive action on the pitch.
“We worked on areas such as shifting our body weight so that our opponents have to work harder to get us to ground, how to manoeuvre out of tackles and how to get our opposition to the ground as quickly as possible. It was tough work but it was also really enjoyable and was definitely a nice addition to pre-season.”
They finished off their pre-season with a ‘Sports Day’ where the squad was divided in two and they competed in a number of challenges that were again, all designed to work the players physically, but also be good fun.
The Ireland Women’s Sevens squad will compete in the second leg of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series in Malmort, France on September 24-25. They are in a Pool C with GB Royals, Italy and Belgium. They then kick off the first leg of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Dubai in December.