Charlie Pozniak is a 17 year old currently playing lock for Sale Sharks U18 in the Premiership Academy League. He is in Year 12 and studying four A-Levels at The Manchester Grammar School: Russian, History, Politics, and RS.
Outmuscled, outplayed, outclassed. We’ve just lost to Leicester, and playing against a Tuilagi and an Umaga is little consolation to the grim reality that Academy Finals Day at Allianz Park is looking ever increasingly unlikely. Ten kilos and four England caps lighter than my opposite man, it was a hard day at the office. Yet this is no office, and this isn’t a full-time job. Tomorrow the work starts in every sense of word – I need to get in the gym, start the recovery, and hand in a history essay – all by 11am. Combining the lives of a Premiership rugby academy player and a Sixth Form student taking four A-levels is not glamorous; the match was lost, the body is broken, but the grind must go on in all aspects of work in the morning.
Post-match Food: Roast Chicken, Vegetables, Potatoes
It’s 6am. This Saturday against Worcester is the chance to make amends. The post-match pains are a regular thing, playing against those who are older, bigger, and more experienced, and with the state of my hip flexor as it is, standing up in the morning can be a struggle. Foam rolling will be the only relief. There is the standard pre-school panic as I try and spend my few spare minutes rolling out the hamstrings and getting a few exercises in my hip rehab program out of the way before quickly eating my usual breakfast, a tube of Weetabix.
I’m in school for half seven and head straight for the bikes to try and get moving again – we’re cycling as a team to Sri Lanka over the next month to fundraise for our school rugby tour. Our first team coach allows me to miss training after school as is usually the case after a Sunday match, it’s a relief as my body is tired and a training session in this state would only be detrimental.
Despite the brief respite, mocks are in two weeks and there’s little time to rest as I catch up with the homework from the weekend, finish the essay and get some revision in. Whilst I would love to make a start on gaining some of the much-needed mass, the body is too tired and the recovery time too short to fit in a heavy lifting session this week. It’s frustrating, knowing that many of my counterparts at rugby schools, AASE schools or even on full-time contracts are able to spend the majority of their days training without the added pressure of four A-Levels, and I could really do with a bulk now the season is coming to an end.
Sport: Cycling in gym
Food: Weetabix, Banana, Blueberries
Hash Browns, Toast
Chicken Fillet, Potatoes, Vegetables
Bagel and cream cheese
Chicken Breast, Roasted Vegetables, Couscous
Tuesday brings similar challenges, however with a slightly more rejuvenated feel and a lighter spring in my step, I manage to fit in a gym session at lunchtime with the Firsts. Nutrition throughout the week is always tough, as I have to be up early I can’t prepare my meals for the day as would be ideal, but school lunches are usually substantial. The day will usually start with a tube of Weetabix with milk and some fruit; then pick up some toast, hash browns and a banana at break before grabbing some lunch in the school refectory. Then a snack before rugby, a protein shake if I go to the gym, and a large carb-based supper at home with plenty of protein and veg. Food is the biggest expense of my life by far. We’ve had folders full of sheets and hours of talks from Sale Sharks over the years about the benefits and necessity to eating and drinking well. I’d love to say I take it all into account all the time, and the vast majority of my meals are planned and reasonably healthy, but the odd pizza does occasionally slip by on a post-training cheat meal. As a teenager it’s easy (and I maintain necessary) to have a few brief and glorious moments off from training and strict nutrition.
Sport: Gym at Lunchtime – back session
Food: Weetabix, Banana
Ham and cheese baguette and banana
Chilli con Carne
Today is probably the biggest physical challenge of my week: an hour and a half of school training in the afternoon, before driving myself in rush hour traffic to Carrington for three hours at Sale Sharks before coming home for 9pm. It’s taxing, but the school work is usually light on a Wednesday and I rarely leave work due in on Thursday until the night before.
Sport: 90 minutes First Team rugby
60 minutes gym at Sale
60 minutes training
Glass of Milk
We have an hour after school and the standard two to three hours of homework before a run through at Friday lunch. Friday night usually consists of a large meal of usually wholemeal pasta with a tomato sauce and chicken – this is usually eaten with my computer on the table, watching footage of our lineout in the Leicester match on my laptop whilst occasionally glancing at the plethora of Snapchat stories as my friends’ nights out are just beginning to start.
Sport: School training 60 minutes
Food: Weetabix and blueberries
Banana, milk and toast
Bagel and butter
Sport: Light run through 30 minutes
Hash browns and toast
Bagel and cream cheese
Pasta, tomato sauce and chicken
Following a late start and my customary Weetabix breakfast, I had a relaxed drive in to Carrington before playing Worcester in a do-or-die match. Fortunately amends were made, and we managed to secure a convincing win against a talented Worcester side.
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The week was tough, and the work intense with mock exams around the corner; despite the challenges, all, however, was balanced, and I managed to make it through – topping the tackle count in the match and managing to get four essays written. Whilst the life may be not exactly glamorous, it is the one I’ve chosen and the one I love. Sacrifices have had to be made over the years – I’ve had to quit water polo and playing the piano in order to stay on top of my workload, and whilst I may miss them, holding on to regrets is a futile exercise.
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