Students met rugby star Manu Tuilagi on a recent trip to the Leicester Tigers’ ground. The students toured the facilities at Welford Road as part of their BTEC sports studies, looking at the intensive training and monitoring that the top players receive.
The students were accompanied by Mr Clasper and Mrs Van Neirop. They initially had meetings with Mr Jack Russell, the stadium manager and Mr Simon Cohen, the Chief of Club Operations, on health, safety and legal issues.
The students toured the gym, changing rooms, treatment rooms and met young hopefuls at the Tigers’ training academy. The highlight of the day was meeting players Manu Tuilagi who had just returned from the rugby World Cup in New Zealand, Geordan Murphy, the Irish centre and Matthew Tait, the English centre who was undergoing physiotherapy.
Mr Clasper said: ‘The best part was seeing how the very elite players train and are monitored and prescribed track and physical training. They have a team of sports scientists and medical researchers who contact professors if they have a query or if there is new research so they use every bit of information they can.
Players’ fitness and progress is charted with graphs and calculations. The trainers they know the time it takes players to get from the floor to their feet and they have got to try and improve every week. They check body fluids and diet. Players’ fitness stats are displayed every single day on a club noticeboard so all the players can see where everybody is ranked. There is so much competition to stay fit.’
The sport has become so technical that players often wear miniature GPS systems so that their entire performance; acceleration, deceleration and heart rates during a game are monitored and analysed. Students saw the training equipment that the players use, including the gym that incorporates two sprint tracks, one with a slightly different composition to reduce the stress placed on injured players. There was also a treadmill enclosed in a gas-filled compartment that reduced body weight, again, an aid to recovery after injury.
Student, Alex Hannah tried out the ‘rampage’ machine, another training aid. He managed to push 90 kilos in 1.4 seconds while the Academy players would manage 120 kilos in just 0.7 seconds! He said: ‘The high spot was meeting Manu, he was massive. After the visit I left a message on Twitter and he retweeted to say “good to meet you guys.”
Mr Clasper said: ‘The trip was a real eye-opener for the students, who not only got to learn more about health and safety and club procedures, but also met three top rugby players. It was amazing to see their size and power in real life and they were really friendly and informal.’