Forwards have some unpleasant habits don't they?
I remember when I was still playing openside flanker the opposing prop was slowing me down as I tried to break at the scrum. Obviously he should have had more on his mind than disrupting my game so I had a word with my own prop and he said he'd deal with it. Not a peep out of the other guy for the rest of the game. Afterwards I asked how the matter had been resolved and it turns out my mate had been 'gently nibbling' (read 'chomping') on the other guy's ear. Not sure I totally approve but it worked.
The article is really to give an insight into how top players prepare, peppered with my own experience. And a lot of my ideas stem from what I would now do if I was going through it all again. I have learnt more in the last two years, partly from reading stuff by Dan John (and your own stuff in Get Up), the literature surrounding CrossFit etc. than I learnt in the previous 15.
When I was at school and at University I used to work for my old man in the holidays. This involved anything from hauling buckets of concrete around a construction site, to hay baling or shifting full kegs of beer up and down the stairs of the pub we owned. I used to be too wiped out some evenings to touch the weights or get out and run.I never got particularly big but I was strong and my heart knew what it was for. It often worked to my advantage that I didn't particularly look like I'd be hard to stop on the field which was usually a huge mistake for opposition players. I've got a low centre of gravity, I stay on my feet, I run at space, not straight into contact. Oh, and I actually enjoy tackling and I will make sure you know that when I hit you.
I first read a Donald Chu book on plyo work when I was 18 and I used to incorporate some of the ideas into my speed work but I emphasise that you should keep it simple. Chuck in some hops or skips. Don't become an athlete who just does plyo work. Plyometrics are very useful tool but they've the word has become hackneyed and if is often misleading. There's a woman who instructs kettlebells in London who describes them as being 'the working class alternative to plyometrics'. I don't even understand what that means.
I think someone who has a solid ground in training in a number of disciplines will be fairly adaptable to playing rugby. Robb has mentioned to me that he fancies giving it a go and I don't see why he couldn't slot into the backs without much problem. A solid powerlifter would cope in the forwards. The phenomenally strong Englishman Andrew Sheridan can bench over 480lbs from a background in PL. He's 6'4'' and nearly 280lbs. After various experiments with him at lock and back row, it's been decided that prop is the best place to utilize his strength. Most guys who play prop at school are no way near this level and the transition to senior rugby is very hard. Many props do not mature until their late 20s.
What you cannot be prepared for is the force of the hits. When I played all the time I didn't notice it but now, after sevens tournaments, I'm in bits. I particularly notice the soreness in my shoulders from tackling. Top players are regurlarly in such a mess after a game that they cannot train properly for at least 48 hours.
That's the thing that a fit, strong guy like Robb would have to contend with. Alongside of course, mastery of the skills.
Basically I want people to read the article, think about the ideas, the positional requirements etc. and go away and use their time wisely.
On the subject of USA Rugby, I think they've made a wise decision by employing Nigel Melville as performance director. He was boss at the my home club, Gloucester, and I have a lot of respect for him. Hopefully an outsider can bang a few heads together. I haven't read the King book but I shall look out for it.
I'm glad you like the article. I was very conscious that you would be passing your critical eye over it and respecting your opinions, that means a lot to me.