Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Rams in tip-top condition

JOE Southwell has hailed the Rams squad for keeping themselves in tip-top shape as they continue their preparations for the return of rugby.

The strength & conditioning coach has been impressed with the group, who are currently in pre-season with the RFU’s ‘Return to rugby roadmap’ currently at stage D, which allows larger group training while still enforcing restrictions on close contact.

Having had last season curtailed back in March, followed by the national lockdown and subsequent social distancing requirements, Southwell said it had been a very different summer.

The Henley resident, who runs his own personal training company, JS Conditioning, in the town, commented: “We were very limited to what we could do at the start and could only do home workouts, so we had to be adaptable with that. We were mindful of the individuals, the front rows, the second rows, they need different programmes from the backs, but in fairness to the guys, we have a group of individuals who work for each other so you could trust them to be away and do what they needed to.

“I took a bit of inspiration from Joe Wicks himself and came up with a few HIIT work-outs and things to do which some of the boys took up. Some of the supporters and other members of the Ramily were also doing it so it was great, good fun and different.”

With no fixed date yet announced for a full return to matches, Southwell revealed himself and his fellow coaches have had to think differently.

He continued: “We’ve been looking at the media and seeing what’s going on, and all we can do is ‘guestimate’ and so far we’ve been pretty good with that. We’ve generally been able to predict when the next phase might come in, so you could say we’ve been lucky.

“Having the new gym which is much bigger and with a lot more facilities has helped and allowed us to do more than what we’ve been able to do in comparison to previous years and the start of last season.

“We had our return to pre-season and then a week later we went into the next stage, and now we’re in September we’re adapting training at a good intensity. Hopefully with two more phases to go, we’ll be playing some time around November - it will be tough if it’s January coming straight off the Christmas break!”

Looking back to 12 months ago, when Rams began the campaign with four wins from four before going on to finish as runners-up, Southwell reflected: “Last year was so unpredictable going into a brand new league, and we didn’t really know where we’d stand.

“It was a new experience for everyone in the club aside from a couple who’d played in it before, and certainly for us coaches it was a question of ‘where are we going to go?’

“We found we had a foothold in the league early on, so then we were able to push on. We did our thing and found out what works.”

And with an eye to the future, he concluded: “We finished second albeit very close with Rosslyn Park, so by default you’re always wanting to push on, but our main focus is just on giving it a real bash again.

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