With the squad returning to training, we spoke to our Head Coach Damian Welch about the plans for pre-season and the changes at Brickfields.
With the club allowed to start training again, how have the first sessions back been?
‘The first couple of sessions have been as you’d expect after so long away from the club and without any rugby-full of energy, enthusiasm and noise! I’d imagine that there have been some sore limbs on the days afterwards as the guys have turned their frustrations at the interrupted rugby year into tearing about on the main pitch. It’s been pleasing to see the genuine levels of enthusiasm and effort coupled with no little skill considering most won’t have touched a rugby ball in months. The other important factor is that there has been plenty of enjoyment and that’s probably the driving factor in sessions at this stage.’
What will be the emphasis for training during the spring?
‘We have a couple of clear goals for this period of training. Firstly we just want to get the boys back into rugby and moving about again after so long inactive it’s important that we can ease bodies back into rugby in stages and allow Mark Mears and his excellent sports therapy team to monitor them as we go to prevent injury.
Broadly speaking the emphasis will be on conditioning on the pitch, with the players able to get some quality work done in the revamped gym facility when it opens up. Hopefully, the players will enjoy working hard and reconditioning their bodies to rugby and we can kick on and begin to introduce other elements of our playing style into the sessions.’
What can you tell us about the plans for the pre-season?
‘Due to the way that lockdown has affected the season we have been able to choose the way in which we return to play. Essentially the choice we were faced with was whether to begin a short sharp block of training with a view to playing an “end of season” friendly around May or to use a more gradual graded return to training with a view to putting ourselves in the best position to hit the ground running for the National 1 season come September. Despite the obvious temptation to get back to playing as soon as possible I believe the sensible course of action and the one which will benefit us the most is to use this period to build towards the league season in September. The decision not to play friendlies at this stage will be the best way to ensure the squad are in the best possible shape for this.
With that in mind, we are currently in discussions with clubs to schedule a program of pre-season matches in August. As with anything at the moment nothing has been finalised, but we hope to do so in the not too distant future.’
Lastly, what do you think of the refurbished gym and The Hub?
‘Both facilities seem to have been given a new lease of life and will really enhance the already impressive facilities at Brickfields. A lot of credit has to go to everyone who has worked hard behind the scenes whether in an investment and management capacity or voluntary capacity to enhance the site and give the club a greater chance to succeed on and off the field. Obviously to an ambitious rugby squad the standard of the gym facilities as they now stand is a huge positive and the improvements made are impressive. Hopefully, the improved gym and Hub will enhance the experience of both squad and supporters as we approach a long-awaited new season.’