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2018Player DevelopmentRugby AcademiesTignesUpdate

Great weather for biggest ever week

By July 20, 2018April 1st, 2019No Comments

We’re into week 2 of the Tignes Rugby Academy and it’s our biggest every group, with our 60 players from more than 5 nationalities represented.  With a refreshed coaching team, a programme that had bedded in well and some unseasonably nice settled weather, everything was set fair for an exceptional week of rugby development


The second week of our high performance 2018 Tignes Rugby Academy has started and boy, has it started with a bang or what! It’s always a fantastic experience for any sports fan to be in a country for a major sporting triumph and where better for our young players to be than in the French Alps to enjoy France’s exciting World Cup Final victory on Sunday.

The World Cup Final enjoyment came at the end of the customary tough opening day of Tignes training and assessment, focussed on passing technique. Our week two group of coaches, headed by former international coaches Philippe Saint-Andre and Johan Taylor and including a hugely experience and talented team of Francois Anne, Dan van Zyl, David McMaster and Jonathan Torossian, took the players through the key mechanics and pointers for passing excellence, in a variety of game scenarios. As part of the C.A.R.D.S. approach that underpins the full Tignes programme, coach Dan van Zyl would later in the day follow up with a technical analysis session in the UCPA meeting room to ensure the players had fully understood and taken on board the specific passing technique elements highlighted in the early practical coaching session.

Quality Strength & Conditioning Programme

In addition to pitch-based activity, our resident S&C (strength and conditioning) intern, Jake Fitzsimmons, began to take the week 2 players through their paces in the gym. Having had the benefit of fine tuning this element of the programme in week 1, Jake, who has extensive experience of high performance academy environments and programmes from his time with various professional football clubs including West Ham United and Derby County, is in a great position to deliver even more insights and benefits to the players in attendance in weeks 2 & 3. Day 1 for Jake and the group was the assessment of the individual players in four key aspects; flexibility, speed, jumping and core strength.

Focus Area – the Breakdown

Monday’s rugby programme moved on to one of rugby’s most important elements – the breakdown. Again, led by their professional coaches, it was remarkable to see the ability of the players to listen, execute and repeat the highly technical learnings around the ruck and it’s different elements. Following this initial training session, selected groups of players returned to the gym with Jake where they were brought through the key elements involved in developing their speed and power.

But it wasn’t all hard work and for the 2018 Tignes Rugby Academy, Monday also means the start of the amazing Tignes leisure activities associated with their week at altitude. The focus today was Tignes Le Lac and the adrenaline pumping activities that include the famous waterslide, paddle boarding and pedalo. For players attending the Tignes Rugby Academy for two weeks, there is a new formal language tuition element that mean these players have classroom lessons to supplement their rugby, physical and leisure activities over an extended stay.

New for 2018 – French Language development

New for 2018, the classroom module is led by Camp Manager Cory Brown and coach (and language teacher) Francois. It is a challenge for the staff and players to deliver this formal learning around such an action-packed schedule but it is an important part of the future offering for our longer development camps, particularly asked for by parents and players who attended in 2017.

Tuesday saw the group back on rugby assessment duty, with the core skill under analysis this time being defence. With the attritional nature of modern rugby, the tackle and quality technique has never been more important and the coaching in the Tignes Rugby Academy really emphasises the critical important of good foot placement and body positioning. This area also introduces one of the many world class partners that PSA Academies works with in Irish sports tech company Shadowman Sports. Their innovative tackle units may be better known for their emergence in the American Football market but PSA Academies have been working with them since 2016 as one of their first rugby partners and the units, with their three numbered tackle zones, play a very active and exciting role in the development of defensive skills in Tignes.

In terms of physical testing and development, S&C intern Jake Fitzsimmons, assisted by David McMaster, continues to lead the group on the best practice programmes, exercises and routines for their age-appropriate progression. The focus on size and strength can be a minefield for young players, with a lack of expert mentoring and advice leading to poor and dangerous practice but the Tignes players are afforded a unique opportunity to learn from highly trained industry professionals whilst at camp, giving them a fantastic opportunity to get an edge on their peers.

Training alongside Top 14 stars from LOU Rugby

An additional thrill this week, for coaches and players alike, has been the chance to literally train alongside and meet the squad of Top 14 side LOU Rugby (Lyon), who are using the altitude training facilities in Tignes to top up their pre-season prep. There are no blacked-out buses, burly security men or exclusion zones to contend with and the chance to meet these players in person will no doubt mean that the French side will have picked up a few new fans from Ireland, the UK, Switzerland and the other nations represented by our week 2 players.

Of course, a week at the Tignes Rugby Academy would not be the same without the players having the opportunity to enjoy the many fantastic leisure activities available at the 2,100m altitude resort. Wednesday is the down day in the programme and allowed the players to enjoy the full range of experiences, starting with beach football at the Plage de Sports, progressing on to the lake activities (the waterslide unsurprisingly being the clear favourite) and finishing off with archery and mini golf back up at Tignes Val Claret.

With top class gym facilities and probably the most picturesque indoor swimming pool facility in Europe for a recovery swim, the players really do get to enjoy an environment that only the most elite rugby teams and players are usually lucky enough to experience.

For the rest of the week, the coaches including ex-Springbok scrum half and Leinster Rugby coach Dan van Zyl and Swiss under 18s coach Jonathan Torossain, will largely focus on the development of individual rugby skills, including open play game management, whilst Jake & David will continue to introduce the players to the key gym routines to address their development needs. With the daily Kangaroo Court and end of week Beach Tag competition, there’s sure to be plenty more fun in store before tired but appreciative players check out and make their long trips home on Saturday.