By Deputy Editor Alan Pearey
IN THE end our Save Your Season winners didn’t want the season to end. Kettering found their form and confidence to rattle up 193 points in their final four matches, achieving a comfortable mid-table finish in Midlands One East.
There can be many strands underlying successful performance, but the SYS programme that Rugby World ran in conjunction with Gatorade was probably the most powerful.
“Save Your Season galvanised our season,” says director of rugby Doug Bridgeman. “It’s made some players who weren’t aware of how best to prepare for rugby more aware and they’re now actively bridging the gap.
“Save Your Season has helped focus the players’ minds and reinforced things that we were trying to do. Those who did the food diaries are some of our best trainers; when they see what they’re missing out on, thanks to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI), then everyone is aware of the amount of improvement there is to be had through improved diet or hydration. So Save Your Season has been extremely beneficial to everybody.”
Back in the New Year, we introduced you to Blues hooker Steve Fraher, a player whose training habits were erratic and whose eating habits contained little thought. He was fading in games instead of staying strong.
“I wasn’t getting enough carbs and that was affecting my energy levels,” he says. “I’m a teacher and I’d be having just a Panini for lunch. Now I have a bowl of pasta, which is pure carbs. I feel less tired and the effort of going to the gym isn’t as much as before because I have more energy to do it.”
Fraher incorporated a sensible protein regime to help improve his power – giving his coaches the option of using him at prop – and he has benefited in other ways too. Training sessions at Leicester (skills) and Northampton (strength and conditioning) have played a big part in moulding more complete players at Waverley Road.
“Nutrition is one aspect and another is meeting the players at Saints and doing that ‘circuit of pain’. I used to rest between exercises in the gym but the Saints made me realise that I needed to add intensity to my sessions.
“Leicester was more technical. My throwing in was good at the start of the season but then it dipped and the throwing was taken away from me. But after those tips from George Chuter, my technique improved and I was given the job again.”
Fraher was Man of the Match in Kettering’s final game, a 54-16 tanking of Newark. The same match saw skipper Chris Chapman, one of the three players who underwent physical testing at the GSSI, score a hat-trick to amply justify his Supporters’ Player of the Year accolade.
Says Fraher: “The biggest thing is experiencing the professional attitude, and seeing how that in turn improves performance. How you train and what you eat can help. Save Your Season has given me a clear understanding of what’s important.
“I take training a lot more seriously now, I’m more committed. I go to the gym on a regular basis and not just when I feel like it. If I say I’m going to the gym on a Wednesday then I will go, no matter what I feel like.”
Instil that attitude in a team or a squad and it’s easy to see how a club can be transformed. On the surface, Kettering’s ninth-place finish suggests they’ve had an unmemorable season. In fact, thanks for Save Your Season, it was anything but.
For more information and training tips visit www.saveyourseason.co.uk