- Take a look at the England Rugby Anaerobic Endurance Test
- Paul Stridgeon takes us through the seven-minute, shuttle run nightmare
At all levels of rugby, pre-season involves fitness testing and England's players are no different, taking on the punishing England Rugby Anaerobic Endurance Test at the summer camp in Loughborough.
The seven-minute game-specific test has variations for backs and forwards to reflect their differing demands during a match and aims to assess their ability to repeat bouts of high-intensity activity with short recovery periods.
England have been doing the test for a decade and as RFU Strength and Conditioning Coach Paul Stridgeon explains, the players approach it with trepidation.
He said: “The test is tough and the boys worry about it the night before they do it, it’s very anaerobic so a lot of lactate builds up.
“The rest periods are about one-to-one, which is similar to game intensity. For example, the backs have deviations rounds poles as they do more offline running in a game and we want to facilitate that in the test.”
Photo: RFU Archive
The test is a comparative exercise for the strength and conditioning team, allowing them to measure the players against previous performances and have a benchmark for re-testing the squad later in the season.
And while it is accepted that the players with be in differing phases of preseason with their various clubs, Stridgeon’s Strength and Conditioning team colleague Dave Silvester said it is crucial for England to have data to work with.
“We recognise that the clubs are in different phases of pre season but we need a marker to see where people are so we have a view, alongside what the clubs are testing them on,” he added.
“Later in the year, such as before the QBE Internationals, we can call that data together and do the same test and look for improvements. It’s also quite a good historical record of where people were in the past and where they are now – we can see if they’ve dropped off or improved their fitness levels.”
Photo: RFU Archive<
The same principle applied to the speed testing for the backs, who had their times recorded by speed gates at 10m, 20m, 30m and 40m over the 40m course.
The data will be analysed for time splits between each section to provide information on both acceleration and speed endurance, and, coupled the footage from a slow-motion camera to check technique, will assist with training programmes for the coming season.
And as Stridgeon reiterated, preseason is all about "putting some numbers on the board."
Full details of the England Rugby Anaerobic Endurance Test are available on RFU.com, with guidelines for the variations between forwards and backs and details on how to run the test yourself.