Re: what level of incremental gain do you see season to season in rugby
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As has been mentioned in previous posts by Ashley and Damien the Super 14 players only have a relatively short off/pre-season which obviously impacts on the physical improvements the players can make.
Young players in the academy systems have a great window for improvement, Dec-Apr before they start club rugby. In-season for these players also allows for continued physical gains as the intensity of the rugby is far less than the Super 14 and Air NZ Cup. This year we have had 8 academy players clean 135 – 150kg (bodyweights btw 90 – 115kg), this was only possible due to the 5 month training block at the beginning of the year.
Strength gains with more senior players are far harder, as they progress through the system the intensity of the rugby takes a far greater toll on their bodies and it becomes more about keeping the guys fresh (Ashley has referred to this in another post in regard to Ritchie McCaw). It does however depend a great deal on the individual. Last year we had a senior player 7 years as a pro, improve his power clean by 15kg (110-125) inseason. So each player must be treated differently.
So many factors effect the players during the year such as current injuries, surgery, travel, number of games played and not forgetting rugby specific training time that it becomes almost impossible to make systematic physical gains. I push my guys when I can. The key factor being that I have done all I can to help them prepare physically for game day.
It would be great to have the off season that the NFL guys have.