Rugby preseason survival of the fittest

Offseason conditioning in rugby is no day at the beach. Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Rugby is a tough sport; players are willing to get beaten to a pulp week in week out playing for their clubs. During my professional career, I have seen players in pieces after having played a game.

But there is one thing that unites all players, the general hatred for preseason training. This season is the 17th time I have dragged my sorry carcass through weeks of some of the most disgusting fitness sessions strength and conditioning experts can come up with. Everyone knows that it is tough and rugby fans all hear about how hard it can be during the summer months building up to the new season, but some of the physical effects range from horrific to flat out weird. But, by the end of it, you actually start to feel pretty good about yourself and are desperate for the matches to start.

Much of what is thrown at you during the couple of months of preseason is, of course, to improve player fitness and strength levels, but I have learned over the years that there is also an element of the coaches and trainers putting players in situations which mentally stretch them -- will they give up as soon as it gets tough or will they dig in for their teammates?

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