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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Q&A With Mike Friday


The World Rugby Conference and Exhibition recently talked with Mike Friday about a variety of topics. They asked us to share the interview which we were more than happy to do!

1. Training

“Our main focus has been working in and around the contact area, particularly on our ball presentation. In sevens you don’t have a lot of time to work on the floor. We incorporate drills to minimise players’ floor work, but that also crucially allow support enough time to reach the man and do their job.”

2. Conditioning

“It goes without saying that to compete in sevens requires a high level of fitness. Within the last four to five weeks the conditioning elements have gone through the roof. We’re treating this lead-up as a sort of mini pre-season as we’ve not been able to put the conditioning into the boys due to the World Series.

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“We’ve had to incorporate heavy conditioning blocks into the programme, a lot of which will be functional conditioning such as combat or floor. We have something called the ‘Yaka Yard’ which specifically focusses on the second efforts required during matches.”

3. Technology

“The intensive conditioning and training leading up to Rio has forced us to be very careful with our loading and volume; Global Positioning Systems (GPS) play an important role, especially with our utilisation of real-time GPS. This helps us realise targets and make sure we don’t overcook the players over the course of a week’s training.

“Another fun piece of kit we’ve been using are ANKORR harnesses for resistance work. These allow us to put players under natural duress without having to get in the weight-room or tangled up in ropes. They’ve been very effective and great fun for one-on-one battles.”

4. Coaching

“Our fundamental methodology hasn’t changed. We’re about the basics of the game – some bibs, some cones and some balls are usually all we need.

“At the start of the Rio camp, we tried to focus on the core skills and components within the game, and built in the decision making and context towards the end. We want to encourage an open-learning atmosphere. The coaches constantly question the players’ attacking and defensive decision making so they can then go and solve the problems themselves in a live environment. It’s about giving the players enough opportunities to make those good decisions and learn from the bad ones.”

5. Globalisation

“Rugby sevens has become the ideal foothold for countries trying to find their way into the sport and the globalisation of rugby has provided developing countries an easier route. More importantly, we’ve seen these countries succeed.

“In sevens it’s always been the case that a player’s decision making, skill and fitness are put under the microscope, and now more people are looking down through that lens. This can only be a good thing for the sport of rugby as a whole.”

6. The team to beat in Rio

“Fiji. Sevens is their national game and it suits their strengths. The pressure is on them to win their country’s first gold medal in Rio.”

7. Speed

“The fastest man in USA Rugby is Carlin Isles. If you don’t catch him within the first five yards, you’re not going to!”

Mike will be speaking at the World Rugby Conference and Exhibition 2016, taking place 14-15 November at the Hilton London Metropole (London, UK).

Learn more about the World Rugby Conference and Exhibition 2016 at: www.worldrugby.org/confex

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