Watch out….pure none work blog coming!
I had the BEST day on Tuesday, thanks to a wonderful friend of mine Mychelle
(yes that is how it’s spelt it’s not a typo) who treated me and two friends to a day with the Saracens rugby club, which she had bid for during a charity
Our main host for the day was Simon, who started the tour by talking about
the season so far for the club and their upcoming games. He explained his
role as team liaison manager, which ranged from helping the new players get established at the club – including helping them with housing and schools for their families, as well as their personal appearances and involvement in charities etc. Simon really showed a love and passion for the club, and a truly authentic care about the players emotional, mental and physical well being. He talked about how many of the players are involved with a charity in South Africa, and some have even been to the shanty towns to help build new homes and schools. This was all an aspect of a professional rugby players life I had never even thought about.
Simon then took us on a tour of the facilities, which included a astro turf
practice area (Saracens are one of the few clubs whose home games are
played on astro) and the gym. The gym had loads of equipment I had not seen
before – including a gravity running machine, a very expensive bit of kit
that helps the players rehabilitate after injury. I loved the banners
around the gym, which really showed the ethos of the club, with words like
humility, honesty, discipline and tribe. The only questionable thing was
the playlist included “no scrubs”.
We then had a meeting with one of the clubs strength and conditioning
coaches, James. It was fascinating to hear the different training steps
they set up for players that are injured, or those that are also England
squad members, so their training is closely monitored and reported back to the England coaches. Each player has their own training programme which can correlate to their position – such as certain players needing strong necks! Each strength and conditioning coach had about six players they look after, and work closely with the clubs nutritional experts to make sure the
training schedule matches their food intake.
We then spoke with Simon about how the energy they used on the pitch during practice and games is monitored via GPS on their backs (at this point I did have to comment a couple of times that I work for IBM and we use predictive analytics with the England rugby team to assess whether players need rest,
predict when they might get injured and of course I mentioned the IBM
TryTracker 😉 ). He also spoke about the new monitors some of the players
wear on their heads to monitor the numbers and intensity of knocks their
heads take, so great that the club invest in this type of thing to make
sure their players are safe and remain fit and healthy.
After watching a bit more of their training, we were lucky enough to have lunch with the players (all very healthy of course!). I sat next to Kelly
Brown – who has the most amazing eyebrows! And later we found out an
amazing singing voice too as Simon recommended a quick search on YouTube – I like the Baywatch one best. We spoke about their outlook on the rest of the season as well as what they do in their down time. They were all so polite and interested to know our opinion as well, a real credit to the
club, and I really really think this was all genuine, not just because they
had been told to be nice.
After lunch there was a team meeting – which for obvious reasons we were
not allowed to attend, so we got to spend some time with the club
nutritionist George, which was so interesting. Learning about the different food and supplements the players have, how careful the club are around ingredients to make sure the players shakes etc comply to all the anti drug laws, and how often they have to eat – every three hours!! It was also great to hear that for the younger players the club even put on cookery
Our next stop was with one of the physios – Jonathan – who talked about the various ways of helping players avoid and fix injuries, including using an ice machine, although he did admit a good old fashioned ice pack does the
The final stop of the day was watching the players in a practice game, when
we were hosted by another of the liaison team, Alex. They first warmed up in groups – forwards, backs and receivers, doing various drills etc,
although one group decided to play football instead!
We watched for an hour or so, then said our goodbyes to Simon. It really
was a fascinating day, everyone we met was so polite and happy to spend
time with us, came away with a really positive view of the club, think it’s only right that I now become a life long fan!!
Thanks to all the Saracens for making it such an amazing and memorable day!