If you enjoy rugby, they'll you'll have been glued to the screen this past few weeks as New Zealand's top ranked Black Fearns have stormed their way to success over rival teams.
They defeated England 25-20 in London, then the Canadians lost 10-20 in Dublin, and last night they trounced Ireland on their home ground in Dublin 8-38. In total @BlackFearns have made it five wins from five Tests in 2016 - a superb performance indeed!
Despite these very impressive wins, Head Coach Glenn More feels that is still room for improvement:
"There's a lot more in us yet. The good thing is we've come over here and we've had to win tough and hang tough and fight it right out to the finish. That's been good for the squad and ultimately we'll get the benefits of that."
One of the key factors in their success is their approach to recovery and it is built into their training programme. @JamieTout, the Black Fearns' Strength and Conditioning coach, said in a recent interview:
"It's crucial about their recovery, it’s a 4 day turn around between matches during the World Cup. Simple routine: game day, review & recovery the next day, and potentially after that we have a double training session, or maybe a longer one just in the morning and try to get them mentally refreshed in the afternoon. The following day, which the day before the game again, we get to go through the preparations and the captains run, and then back into the game."
Touts goes onto to say that the key things for recovery is plenty of rest and hydration. Generally if you get those two things right the muscle soreness reduces and the energy levels tend to go up as well. Each day the team use an app on their phone to record hydration levels, muscle soreness, quality of sleep, and energy levels – which gives a wellness score. This score is then used for each athlete's individual training programme.
Coming over from the southern hemisphere, our cold Irish weather has taken some getting used to. While it can be invigorating to train outside, the players have also been using the gym for warming up – often with a post match recovery session rather than a strength session – focusing on exercises, self-massage, and using lower weights but with higher repetitions, with consideration to meal planning for replenishing the muscles.
Under the coaches' close supervision, the athletes will go onto the field for a clarity session, so they know that they have good game understanding, before commencing the warm-up session. The many coaches work together to integrate the physical side of the game with its technical side, using GPS devices to track and monitor the player's performances. These are used to manipulate their chronic and acute loads –i.e. what happens over a 7 day window (the acute load) vs. what happens over a longer 28 day window (the chronic load). They've been working hard since the Australia Series in September, so after 3 months they have a good feel for how the players are tracking .
Tout knows that this women's rugby team aims to be the most professional amateurs they can be, trying to balance their rugby / home balance – they work hard and put in long hours to be able to play for their country and maintain the high standards set by their male colleagues, the All Blacks. What they put in in terms of preparedness cannot be underestimated – many have families, work and studies as well as playing rugby at an international level:
"It could be said that that is what defines the Black Fearns is their ability to achieve that work / life balance."
We think that they had another secret weapon this weekend. Both Tanya and Gary were invited down to Dublin to provide sports massage to aid the team's recovery after beating England on Saturday and then ahead of their game against Ireland this Sunday past.
Black Fearn's Aldora Itunu & Eloise Blackwell spoke about the recent match against Ireland:
"The girls were pretty excited, and were switched on, ready for their last game...There was a huge amount of energy and the girls have been looking forward to this game for the whole tour – ready to get out and hopefully get that performance that we've been after."
We think that Tanya and Gary's experience, knowledge and professionalism helped them achieve that superb performance they were after!
If you want to benefit from the same quality of sports massage – and to be able to say that you go to the same people who work with world class athletes – then get in touch with TDR Academy and book your own #sportsmassage.