Thursday, 18 July 2013

Neath aiming to be fittest side in the Premiership

Robin Sowden-Taylor, Neath RFC’s new strength and conditioning coach, believes that he can turn the Blacks into the fittest side in the Welsh Premiership before the season kicks off next month.

The former Wales international has been hired by the Gnoll club to do just that and he believes that the programmes he’s put the Neath players through in pre-season will turn them into a force to be reckoned with and will give them a big boost when they eventually take to the field.

“At the start we had a big squad – 40 odd players – and they varied in ability wise and certainly strength and conditioning, throughout the squad,” said Sowden-Taylor. “We’ve narrowed the squad down a bit so the standard has risen and I’ve been impressed.

“It was great that the WRU put on a national testing day for the Premiership teams so I’m waiting back for the results from that to see how we fare against others in the league.

“We’re hoping we’ll be towards the top in fitness and I genuinely believe we can be number one in the Welsh Premiership in regards to conditioning. The extra sessions we’ve done away from the pitch means that there’s no reason why we can’t be just that.

“It’s all about making sure the boys perform well on the pitch and what I do is specific to how they’ll play a game of rugby – that’s where the enjoyment comes into it, it’s different every session. They don’t know what to expect so they can push themselves. I’m looking forward to when the results come back from the WRU.”

In July, the Neath players have started their on-field training ready for their first pre-season friendly at The Gnoll against English Division One side Rosslyn Park on Saturday 17th August (kick-off 7.45pm).

“With us being a new squad with a few new faces, it was important that we started earlier than in recent years so we had to sort out our bases and what we needed to before they got onto the pitch,” said Sowden-Taylor.

“I’m looking to get more involved with the rugby side of things which I’m slowly doing. But obviously at this time of year there’s quite a heavy responsibility on strength and conditioning and getting the boys ready for the season so my time is very occupied by planning the fitness sessions.

“We’re doing quite a lot of off-site training too. In my business outside of rugby, I’m a gym up in Cardiff called Dragon Cross-Fit and I’ve a good relationship with Cross-Fit 365, a similar organisation in Neath.

“So the players who are based in Cardiff up to Aberdare come down to me at Dragon Cross-Fit and we do a couple of lifting sessions a week, with the Neath boys going to Gary McLean in Cross-Fit 365 – his assistance has been so important to us. This means that for the Strength and Conditioning, the boys don’t have to travel too much at this stage of the season and they’re getting top quality strength and conditioning facilities.

“This time of year is tough but we know we have to make it stimulating and enjoyable for the boys as well. All of it has been established to make them the fittest players in the league so they can last 80 minutes of rugby and come away with win after win. We’re looking forward to seeing how it all comes together when we have our first match.”


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