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Premiership Rugby

Gloucester get to grips with judo lessons

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Kavanagh, a judo coach since the age of 19, is based in Cheltenham and has taken the Gloucester players through a six-week training programme geared to their specific needs.

"I have not trained them to be judo players, I have given them body mechanics to suit their needs. I gave them specific judo skills and then told them to use them on a rugby pitch," said Kavanagh.

"The judo skills were about helping a player to move an opponent to free up the ball for a second player. The skills they have learnt will help them control the opposition players.

"Of the 20 players that I trained regularly, I believe that at least 19 could achieve a black belt if they were to take up the sport seriously when they finished playing rugby. They are athletes who learn very quickly."

Gloucester's fitness and skills coach, Rudi Meir, who introduced the Gloucester squad to climbing last season, believes that judo techniques have much to offer his players.

"It's easy to look at your own sport and never look outside of it for ideas, but I like to look at a number of different sports and try to relate that into something we are doing. Certainly there are a lot of common areas in judo that are relevant to us," said Australian Meir.

"We didn't want to teach the players to be judo players – it wasn't about that – but we wanted to talk to a massively experienced judo coach about areas of contact in rugby where he would have highly-tuned skills that might be applicable to us," he added.

"What you see on the pitch, in terms of the physical confrontation, is usually not very subtle. It is about me being stronger than you and just dominating you physically to get you out of the way for me to get hold of the ball, or keep the ball or change the point of attack.

"What we have tried to get through to the players is that there may be times when this is still the case, but if you can go into a physical confrontation situation and you have some skills, where you think a bit more about what you do, and you have some specific techniques that you can use, it can make you much more effective and use much less energy in the process."

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