- Recovery time for players between big games is very important
- When it comes to physicality in the modern game, it’s not about size, but power and timing
- The British & Irish Lions tour in 2005 demonstrated the importance of a decent rest between games
There are plenty of competitions that take place in rugby across the world where high demands are put on the players involved. From European club matches to big internationals, the physical and mental requirements mean that the rest and recovery time between games is just as important as the time spent on the training field.
Moody explains, “It's very tough when you have short periods to recover. There's very little you can get done in between as the body is still recovering. You'd be looking at a light team run the day before the game and that's all you'll get in, plus a bit of analysis on the computer.”
Having played in a number of campaigns for club and country, Moody remembers his time with the British & Irish Lions and how tough the schedule was then. He said, “In 2005, we operated a system where the midweek team trained against the starting team and the starting team trained against the midweek team. Because the midweek game was on a Wednesday, training was on a Thursday for the starting team, which meant that the midweek team that played on a Wednesday then had to train the day after the game as opposition for the first team. Then the first team, after a Test match on a Saturday had to train on a Sunday because that was the team run for the midweek team. Essentially you were having no rest. It was the most brutal tour I've ever been on in terms of fatigue. That was a no-day turnaround!”
In Moody's playing days, rugby had already started to introduce tailor-made recovery sessions after big games. He says, “It tended to vary. Some people would advocate complete rest the day after, some would advocate coming in and doing a light run or something. Ice baths were generally in fashion then and the morning after the game I was generally in the pool.”
While player welfare has moved ever higher up the list of rugby's responsibilities as a sport, Moody admits that the difficulty as a player is wanting to feature in all aspects of a campaign, even if you have picked up an injury.
Moody says, “Everyone wants to play. Even if you’ve picked up a niggle, you're still desperate to play and you tend to come back early, and push things a bit harder. The chance of damaging yourself even more in the big competitions is higher.”
In his playing career, Moody was known as 'MadDog' - a reference to the fact that he would often put his head where many would not dare to put their feet. His relish of the physical part of rugby earned him international respect.
Moody says, “Within any team, people have certain roles. In the game itself, you rely on each other to go out and make a statement. You want someone from that first kick-off, that first receipt, that first line-out whatever it is, to go and make an impact. Certainly defensively you want to put your mark on the game very early on. I remember whenever we used to play in the Six Nations against France there would always be people you would target. Certainly Chabal, you'd try and take him out of the game early because if he got into the game, he was very difficult to stop – he got a huge amount of confidence when he got himself into it. If you could take him out by physically dominating him (not by injuring him!) then he tended to disappear a little bit. We had the likes of Joe Worsley who great at that.”
With teams in all big matches looking to gain an advantage by showcasing their attacking skills but also their defensive abilities, Moody advises that it takes control as well as power. He says, “If you tend to accelerate into a tackle without timing it then actually the will be nowhere as good as one that you've slowly timed. Jonny (Wilkinson) was the master at that. He never flew into a tackle, he got himself into a good position to deliver the power. Mine was slightly different, I was hell for leather after people.”
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