During the summer of 2012 I embarked on another Professional Developement Experience. This time to Belfast, Northern Ireland to observe the Ulster Rugby team train for a week who participate in the Heineken Cup and the RaboDirect PRO 12 League.
One of the key lessons to learn from this experience is that if you never ask the question…you’ll never know the answer…So how did I create this opportunity…?
Through my long association with Kukrisports during my time at Denstone College, Kukri are the kit sponsors for Ulster rugby so I asked Scott Gamble (GB Sales Director) if he could ask whether or not I could visit the Ulster Rugby environment.
Once all the arrangements were confirmed I hopped on a plane for the short flight over the Irish Sea for a week in August during their pre-season training phase. On arrival I was welcomed by a Kukri representative at the airport who took me to meet Terry Jackson (General Manager and Director Kukri Ireland) at the training ground. Terry introduced me to Director of Rugby David Humphreys.
I was free to come and go as much as possible and observe all training sessions from team organisation to units (Backs and Forwards), to individual skill, to strength and conditioning sessions.
It was very interesting to see how the coaches carried out their sessions and how the players drove them and responded to them. Observing how some of the best international players in the world train was a fascinating insight…the likes of John Afoa, Johann Muller, Tommy Bowe, Rory Best, Roger Wilson, and Stephen Ferris.
Thank you to Terry Jackson and David Humphreys for making it happen…to Mark Anscombe (Head Coach) for allowing me to observe his sessions…to Jonathan Bell (Defence Coach) for his discussions on thier defensive systems…and to Jonny Davis (Head Strength and Conditioning Coach) for the many chats and showing me a system of how to organise exercises…