- England Women's gruelling schedule includes XVs and sevens next month
- “We have to ensure the players adapt themselves so they can be the best” – Ian Crump
Photo: RFU Archive
England Women’s gruelling schedule next month means nothing can be left to chance. Effort and output must observed in minute detail as the Autumn International Series against France and Canada leads into the opening round of the IRB World Sevens Series in Dubai.
The packed international calendar means some players will switch between XVs and sevens rugby within a matter of weeks. Given the demands of each form of the game are unique, bespoke conditioning is crucial to ensure they are ready to compete against the best in the world.
To help the squads ensure they are working at the correct intensity levels during training, Polar – England's official heart rate monitor supplier – provides their market-leading products which are used in training sessions and matches.
England Women’s Strength and Conditioning Coach Ian Crump explained the detail behind his work.
“We have to ensure the players adapt themselves so they can be the best in both forms of the game,” he said. “In XVs, the core principles are strength, endurance, speed, power and aerobic capacity.
“This is so players can operate at an effective level for the full 80 minutes. In sevens, however, where matches are only 14 minutes long and players need to be much more dynamic, we work more on explosive power, speed and their ability to repeat this with anaerobic shuttles just like they experience in matches.
“It takes around four weeks for players to properly adapt between the two [forms of the game] and it needs to coincide with another important factor, the tactical bit – getting used to different defence patterns and game plays.”
In a sevens match, a player typically covers 1-1.5km, although in some cases players have run over 2km. Over this distance, players would be covering on average 80-90 metres per minute, with an average of 15 flat-out sprints per game.
In a XVs match, by comparison, backs cover an average of 7km, with 500-700m in their ‘high-speed zones’ during a game – anything over 19kmph.
Current England International Emily Scarratt is aware and appreciative of the technological support her side receive.
“There is now a much greater emphasis placed on conditioning players correctly,” she said. “The game has developed a long way in terms of physicality so players are now required to be much stronger and more powerful.
“Using a Polar heart rate monitor allows me to not only gauge how hard I am working but I can also set intensity brackets depending on the desired training outcome so that I am working at the correct load.”
Crump added: “Polar picks up the heart rate of the player, and we can look at various parameters to give us information about how that player is working during the session or match.
“Each session will have a desired intensity in terms of how hard it is designed to be. Having the live system enables us to monitor players’ heart rate, how long they are spending in various heart rate zones, and compare this to the speed and distance they are covering.
“In particular, we look at how long a player spends in their ‘Red Zone’ which is a high heart rate zone that indicates a high work rate.
“Harder sessions will require players to spend more time in this zone and for longer durations at a time. Similarly, sessions that are designed to be easier, or recovery sessions, we would limit players to ensure they were not hitting the high heart rates.”
For more information on Polar heart rate monitors go to www.polar.com