The coach interviewed is Gary Dempsey, Head S&C coach, contracted full time to England RL. If anyone is interested, I have posted some snippets from the article below:
MUSCLE & FITNESS:
Explain thephysical demands of rugby league.
Rugby leagueinvolves two sets of 13 playersbattling it out for 80 minutes.During this time players can achieverunning distances of up to 10kilometres, including more than 30sprints, depending on their position.The players also make on average25 tackles per game although it canbe as many as 50. To add to theintense nature of matches, everyplayer has to carry the ball aspowerfully as they can through theopposition and they can do this upto 20 times per game.Some players are as heavy as120 kg and can run more than eightmetres per second so their speedmomentum makes the collision areaextremely challenging, particularlywhen you’re defending.
How advanced is training?
The game has evolved significantlyover the past few years as sportsscience has had a greater influence. Thesports science team need to maximisefitness gains and offset the accumula-tion of fatigue, which means detailedplanning of each day and how that fitsinto the training week and overalltraining year. This is done on an indi-vidual as well as a team basis andinvolves all members of the supportstaff and coaching team.The sports science/strength andconditioning team have access tocutting-edge technology, such as globalpositioning system, strength diagnos-tics, and GymAware to ensure players’ physical qualities are measured,monitored, and developed. Nutritionalsupport has also had a great influenceon training and recovery. There’s nowmore advice on appropriate food groupsand nutritional supplementation.
Give some examples of howtechnology is improving conditioning.
If you watch any game of rugby youwill see a small rectangle shape bulgingfrom the players’ upper backs. This is asmall GPS unit that allows the sportsscience team to monitor the players’ activity. This hardware can tell us howfar a player has run, how many sprintshe has done and his current heart rate,which is a universal measure of internalload i.e. how hard the player is working.We can use this information to gain aninsight into how intense a game is andhow intense we need to make training tobe able to match, or supra-max, gameintensity. This technology is also auseful tool for injury prevention becauseyou can start to build a picture of aplayer’s mechanical efficiency. If theplayer is not moving efficiently, it couldbe a precursor for injury.GymAware provides feedback tocoach and player on a host of para–meters, such as peak power and meanconcentric velocity. This ensures aplayer is training at the qualityintended. If, for example, you aim totrain upper body pushing power (forcex velocity) we know you need to movethe bar at a certain speed (0.8–1.0metres per second). But if a player isfeeling tired he may not reach thedesired speed, therefore some loadmay be taken from the bar to ensurethat the speed, and so the intent of themovement, is maintained.This is extremely useful at the end ofa season when fatigue is likely to behigh. The hardware also provides greatmotivation for players to train hard andimprove.
Do Australia and NewZealand adopt a similar approachto conditioning?
The Aussies would like to think thatthey are leading the way in terms of bestpractice but we are preparing our playersin the best possible way. It really dependson the philosophy of the head coachand the lead strength and conditioneron what is delivered. We aim to be the best-prepared teamat the World Cupand will leave no stone unturned.
Describe England’s strengthand conditioning coaching set-up.
There are currently three strengthand conditioning coaches: Mark Bitconfrom Wigan Warriors, Chris Baron fromWarrington Wolves and myself. So theother two are club-based coacheswhereas I am an English Institute ofSport strength and conditioning coachsolely contracted to England RugbyLeague. The support staff includessome club representatives, whichmakes dovetailing with clubs easier.