NFL guru helps Cheetahs

2011-12-08 22:23
Sias and Robert Ebersohn (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Cheetahs' conditioning coach Niel du Plessis has sought advice from an American conditioning expert in an effort to produce better rugby-specific athletes.

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Du Plessis and Alfred Rheeder, managing director of PVM Nutritional Sciences which sponsors the team, recently met Gavin MacMillan from the Sport Science Lab in San Juan Capistrano in America to find out how rugby players could become physically more effective.

Du Plessis says he hopes MacMillan's principles could help reduce injuries, especially soft tissue injuries.

The Volksblad newspaper reports that Du Plessis and Rheeder spent three weeks at the laboratory under MacMillan's guidance. MacMillan is a fitness guru and several American football players use him on a personal basis.

Du Plessis feels gym work only helps up to a certain point and their aim is not to produce bodybuilders but rugby athletes.

"To bench press more doesn't necessarily make you better on the field. Insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results," he said.

Therefore, the aim is to adapt the Cheetahs' feet-, balance- and strength work to achieve better rugby results.

Du Plessis says rugby players' aim should not be to look like bodybuilders. "You can make a prettier and strong athlete, but he isn't necessarily more effective. We don't want guys that belong on the front page of the Men's Health. A pretty guy isn't really a good athlete. He is a bodybuilder."

Du Plessis says a guy who can pick up the heaviest weight isn't necessarily the best athlete. "The best athlete is rather the guy who can throw the lightest weight the furthest (distance). A guy that can pick up something heavy can't necessarily shoot something far and explosively."

And it's that explosiveness which is so important for rugby players and what the Bloemfontein-based team will strive to accomplish.

Du Plessis also reiterated that their aim (in America) was not to go and learn what American football players do. "The most important was to learn techniques and principles that we can use in rugby."

He also believes injuries can be reduced using these methods. "We also want to better prevent injuries. In the pre-season we haven't sustained any soft tissue injuries. You will still have injuries, but we want to prevent the small injuries," said Du Plessis.

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