Rugby players benefit from home support to keep them fit and active

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Sports specialists at Hartpury have produced comprehensive home training programmes for the Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s rugby squad to support their physical and mental wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Training sessions at Hartpury, where many of the players are current or former students, have been cancelled for the foreseeable future following the premature end to the 2019-20 Tyrrells Premier 15s season and the campus closed, with the UK currently in lockdown.

Team coaches and members of the medical and strength and conditioning departments at Hartpury – the UK’s premier sport and education setting – have made the most of the latest technology to create tailored programmes for the players to carry out while they are self-isolating at home.

It includes a series of online yoga classes led by Gloucester-Hartpury WRFC player Rachel Lund, a sports therapist at Hartpury who won the prestigious Bruce Hobbs Travelling Scholarship award from the Society of Sports Therapists in 2018.

Sean Lynn, Head of Women’s Rugby at Hartpury and Head Coach of Gloucester-Hartpury Women's RFC, which is a partnership between Gloucester Rugby and Hartpury University and Hartpury College, said: “As a result of the cancellation of all rugby this season, we have been working hard to keep the players engaged and doing what we can to make them feel connected.

“We have scheduled fitness challenges on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays that have been influenced by our strength and conditioning and medical departments, while on Tuesdays and Thursdays the players have had very rugby-specific tasks to carry out.

“As a newly qualified yoga instructor, Rachel Lund is using her expertise to keep the squad morale high by taking players out of their comfort zones.

“It’s a tough time for everyone in the country at the moment, but we are very much sticking together as a squad as much as we can.”

Rachel said she hoped the online yoga sessions would help bring members of the squad together and support their physical and mental wellbeing during their period of self-isolation.

“It will be a lot of fun just to get everyone in one place as we haven’t been together as a team for a while now,” said Rachel.

“Given the current climate we are currently experiencing, it’s an incredibly easy way to exercise at home or in the garden and requires virtually no equipment.

“With the league now finished for the 2019-20 season, we are all just trying to stay as active and fit as we can during this unprecedented time before we can hopefully come back together and get pre-season started.”

Gareth Lynch, Lead Strength and Conditioning Coach at Gloucester-Hartpury Women's RFC, said the home training programme included body weight and band resistance workouts designed to support the players no matter what equipment they had at home, as well as conditioning and speed sessions to complete.

“We are also setting physical fitness and skilled-based challenges, including some light-hearted activities, for the players to carry out,” he said.

“We’re compiling an overall leaderboard showing how everyone is getting on, to keep everyone motivated, maintain an element of competition and keep the squad connected and encourage social interaction.”

Matt Goodman, Lead Physiotherapist at Gloucester-Hartpury Women's RFC, said the players and staff had responded positively to the training programmes in what continues to be a difficult situation.

“It has been great being able to use video calls so Gareth and I can check in with the players and break the isolation that some of them must be feeling,” said Matt.

“The technology also enables us see what equipment the players have access to and modify their exercise progressions accordingly.

“I have been really impressed by the enthusiasm from of all the staff and players in making the most of a very challenging situation and adapting and pushing themselves in other areas.

“All the hard work everyone is putting in now will put us in a good position when rugby restarts.”

Picture: Hartpury graduate and England international Kelly Smith playing for Gloucester-Hartpury Women's RFC

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