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Saturday, November 10, 2012

A look at Wales' gruelling training camp in Poland

Wales host Argentina today in what will be the first of four end of year Tests for the Six Nations champions. While the tour of Australia didn't quite go to plan, they've been training harder than ever at the infamous Spala facility in Poland.

It's no secret that the Welsh squad have been using the slightly unorthodox training methods available to them at this camp for quite some time. The fitness of the Grand Slam champions shows and a lot of that is due to what goes on in Spala.

The Olympic Training Centre is considered one of the most advanced in Europe, with facilities such as an athletics stadium, indoor swimming pool, weights room, electrotherapy, physiotherapy, and magnetotherapy rooms, and of course the dreaded cryo-rehabilitation rooms.

Cryotherapy chambers have been described as human sized fridges that drop down to -160°C for top track and field athletes, who have been known to stay in there for up to five minutes at a time.

The Welsh squad go through the same thing, more than once a day, as they push their mind and body to places most will never experience.

"Spala is a fantastic and unique facility. It has given the players the opportunity to spend time together, they've bonded and enjoyed the experience," said coach Rob Howley.

"There's been a lot of banter, the team dynamics in professional sport are important and we have been impressed with the players. The team will benefit from Spala physically and mentally from the time we have spent together.

"The mantra of this national team over the last few years since the current coaching team has been together has been about hard work and this facility is unique in the way it allows you to do that"

Wales will play Argentina, followed by Samoa, then New Zealand and Australia.

Here is an excellent report from BBC's Scrum V which takes you deep into the training camp

Posted at 10:46 am | 20 comments

Posted in Coaching

Viewing 20 comments

carlo83 November 10, 2012 3:41 pm

Cryowhat? How cold does it get inside those tanks? Not sure I understood it right...

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jo Guest November 10, 2012 3:53 pm

all this talk of the Welsh being the fittest in the Northern hemisphere annoys me to be honest. I havent seen any sign of fitness in the recent Scarlets games, in the recent Ospreys capitulation at Leicester in the final 15, and in the Cardiff annihilation away at Leinster.

It's a fair bit of bunkem as far as i'm concerned.

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Reality November 10, 2012 4:05 pm

Yeah, normally in videos of other teams training, the players are messing around a lot, and not doing a lot of hard work. That obviously isn't how they normally train though; it's just what's shown to the cameras. If you look at the All Blacks training video from a few days ago, they're all just having a laugh, but it's not like they're less fit than the Welsh team. I'd say that behind closed doors, all international teams do just as much hard work.

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Pelling1991 November 10, 2012 6:42 pm

Didn't help them today....LOS PUMAS!!!

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Rugbydump November 10, 2012 6:57 pm

This was posted pre-match. #jinxed

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Pretzel November 10, 2012 8:32 pm

....I don't want to come across as a dick or anything, and I know there is swings and roundabouts... but how much money do Wales spend on this kind of training camp, and how much do the Argies spend on their training camp?

I mean I didn't watch the game, so perhaps it the 14 points that Arg had ahead of Wales was down to luck or perhaps didn't reflect the game, but really, all the money in the world won't help you if you can't be "lesser teams"... <- No offence to Arg supporters, but as you must be aware, you are fairly new to the scene and perhaps don't carry the same "clout" as the top 5 teams... (yet anyway!)

....so just to sort of clear up the messy comment, I feel that this sort of training was done so that Wales could get the edge on the likes of Aus, NZ, SA etc, perhaps not have it in their minds that Arg were going to be a killer force to reckon with....

I suppose it could be said that "Wales training camp was in Poland, Arg training camp was in the 4 Nations"...

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Guy November 11, 2012 9:59 am

I did watch the match. In the second half it looked like they might have trained too hard. They just seemed to fade.
Whereas the Pumas showed that there is no amount of training that can replace a good amount of pride, passion and caracter.

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argie November 11, 2012 8:26 pm

Pretzel, i totally agree and will quote "Wales training camp was in Poland, Arg training camp was in the 4 Nations". However I do have a very strong opinion about welsh rugby. Being an Argentine, I was expecting a very physical and tough match out of Wales. I must say that I expected a very physical side, that was going to impose their physicality by bashing their centres (roberts and williams) against our much smaller centers, or a side that was going to use the two bashing towers they have on the wings.

However yesterday I was conviced that the bigger side will not always have the edge. Argentina was not precise in the use of their tactical kicks, and had to swap some positions after Felipes injurie. However I saw a much more mature Argentine version on the pitch, that was able to overcome a VERY strong welsh team.

So coming back to the if, Wales is or is not over trained. What I think happened yesterday was that Argentina was just more mature, not better trained. Wales seemed lost and did not have a concelled game plan.

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Hayden H November 12, 2012 1:26 am

Wales should focus more on mentally strengthening their players, they dont have a killer instinct. Physically they can match most and Cyro may help but this just reminds me too much of where the ABs took all the main players out of S14 and said hit some tin for 3 months. Result = bigger players but not rugby hard, crap form and injuries.

The players are looking a little too cut, get some fat on them :)

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Colombes November 10, 2012 11:01 pm

as others said just above, don't want to be an asshole, but the best training possible is to meet the more physical teams rather to have the most physical or technoligical training sessions.

in this logic, argentina had the best training possible
when Wales like others NH sides, just begin their international side (and have some injuries)

France be informed, Argies will be tough and... fit

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Kettlerugby November 10, 2012 11:33 pm

I hate to arrogance of Welsh Rugby. They chat so much about this Poland business...seemed of forgotten how to play Rugby.

I agree their fitness does not seem to be any more than any other NH team.

Do us a favour and shut up

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Clearly November 11, 2012 12:26 am

Ireland under Eddie O'Sullivan used to go to Spala a couple of times a year. They were one of the fittest international teams at the time and had a remarkably low rate of injuries. It was all part of a much bigger player management plan though. It seems to have been abandoned by Kidney though and the team is noticeably less fit relative to other sides and has a much much higher rate of injuries.

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DW November 11, 2012 12:53 am

I think what people are forgetting is that any training like this is one small part of a giant puzzle.

Wales seem to have this aspect of the team preparation pretty dialled and maybe the overall effect does only make them them equal to other teams... it is just their way of getting to that required level and possibly beyond into the realms of gaining a "marginal gain" over the opposition. It is certainly not the be all and end all and I don't think Wales would claim it is.

Wales lack the depth of talent to make these marginal gains have any real effect as there appear to be a lot of fundamentals missing however...

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tc November 11, 2012 1:07 am

if it adds a couple of percent, even if psychological, coaches will use it.

all the high tech training wont help if the game plan and basic skills arent there

wales are too dependant on jamie roberts and george north. if they dont play well, or get managed like they did by the argies, they are a distinctly average side, because there's no one else to get over the gain line

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Canadian content November 11, 2012 3:17 am

U know the funny thing about this video has to be the random shots of the massive figure of Danny Baugh, a player from an amateur nation who has been hired to prepare the welsh physically. I played against him in u19 and was humbled about as much as a cocky 18 year old could be. Danny achieved thru pure hard work not cyro chambers and fancy set ups.

There's something to the abs attitude during training too. They don't take themselves too seriously and thus seem to be ready to perform when the time comes

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Oso November 11, 2012 6:21 am

Rugby has always been a matter of passion, mind and courage. All the hi-tech cannot give you that.

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Pretzel November 11, 2012 6:26 pm

I think what you mean is "cannot REPLACE that"... hi-tech "stuff" can certainly give you the edge... and of course if this cryo-freezeyourballsoff stuff works then I'm all for teams leaping in there... however if you can't get the basics right then this stuff just means you'll recover from a bad game quicker...

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katman November 11, 2012 9:27 pm

Argentina were tough as nails in their first Rugby Championship this year. They may have ended fourth, but they pushed each team all the way and even drew with my Boks. To me they were never the underdogs in this game. Wales would have had to be really focused and clinical to beat them. And they weren't. Guys like Fernandez Lobbe and Leguizamon are on par with the best loose forwards in the world. In fact, the way he's been playing this year, I reckon Fernandez Lobbe shades guys like Read, Harinordoquy, Parisse and Vermeulen. World rankings? Forget about it. In a couple of weeks that will all look a whole lot different.

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rugby08 November 12, 2012 5:56 pm

It amazes me how they spend all that time doing this stuff yet when it comes down to game time the players can't even do the basics right. Not just Wales, all the northern hemisphere teams.

More time should be spent on 2 on 1's, straightening the line in attack, learning how to utilise an overlap (very important), support play, decision making under pressure and fatigue, more variation in attack, quicker recycling of the ball.

Wales are too one dimensional.

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archie November 12, 2012 9:03 pm

not enough to beat the Pumas!!! hahahaa :)

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