How to stay rugby ready during coronavirus according to one of rugby’s top trainers

The coronavirus broke the hearts of grassroots rugby players right around the country.

While a handful of lower graders are still yet to officially start their preseason, the majority of guys and girls worked their tails off all through summer and were just days away from the start of matches when the season was officially postponed. 

We still don’t know when rugby will return but there’s still a good chance that matches will be played in some form this season. 

So what do you do between now and then? 

Justin Lang is one of Sydney’s top sports exercise physiologists and runs Live Athletic, a high performance training centre in southern Sydney. 

“Basically we offer a high performance program that allows amateur and aspiring athletes to train in a full time professional program that can covers anywhere from eight to 14 sessions a week,” Lang told Rugby News. 

“Our mentality is that if everyone else is training professionally and you’re doing less than that, well then it’s always going to be difficult to catch them and break into the professional ranks.”

Lang believes it’s crucial that all rugby players maintain their training levels during the coronavirus break. 

“During summer and pre season, most players would have been building up a high work load over a long period of time and that helps form a protective barrier against injury. 

“If they go away from that, they lose that protective barrier so it’s extremely important that all players do what they can through this period.”

While most players probably thought their days of running up and down a rugby field were over for the year, Lang said the reality should be quite different. 

“The easiest thing to do at the moment is to get down to a park while you can and work on shuttle and speed work,” he said. 

“There’s a saying that you have to earn the right to run fast and you can achieve that by doing regular speed work through this period. 

“That not only allows you to run fast but it will also help you avoid injury and I think you’ll really notice who has and who hasn’t been doing that work when the season eventually kicks off again.”

While gyms around the country are currently closed, Lang said there isn’t much players can’t do if they can get access to an olympic lifting bar at home. 

If they can’t get access to that, he said body leverage training was the next best thing. 

“It’s essentially gymnastics strength training where you leverage your body weight to make movements more difficult. 

“You can do planche work for shoulder strength, pistol squats for leg strength, inverted push ups and standing hand stands for your upper body and then use things you’ve got around the house to carry and hold to make movements more difficult.”

For the lower graders out there who have already moved up a belt buckle, Lang said consistency and diet was key in the coming months. 

“I think you need to be doing something every day. Body conditioning workouts are a good start where you combine lots of different circuit movements to burn off energy. If you can get outside, long continuous runs, interval sessions and hill sprints are also really effective. 

“You’ve just got to keep moving through this because if you don’t, there are going to be a lot of torn hamstrings when the season kicks off.”

Lang has found somewhat of a niche working with aspiring rugby players in Sydney and most recently mentored Stu Dunbar and Cassie Staples in the lead up to their Australian Sevens debuts. 

He also currently works with Shute Shield players from right across Sydney and said he expects a number of his athletes to impress when the season eventually begins. 

“Michael Icely from Eastwood is a serious talent. He’s getting bigger by the day and he’s extremely dedicated. He’s been doing about 14 sessions a week across gym work, speed work and skills sessions and I think his performance will reflect that when he plays. 

“Charlie Smith is another guy at Easts. He’s only young but has had a handful of shoulder injuries already. He hasn’t been properly strong since about year 11 and he’s now had seven or eight months of consistent training. 

“Max Burey at Norths is also a superb athlete. He’s come across from league and is impressive right across the board.”

Live Athletic recently released a mobile app and have taken all of their services online in recent weeks. 

Lang said he encourages players and clubs from around the country to reach out for a chat or some advice at anytime in the months ahead via email – [email protected].