England have been pulling out all the stops in their attempts to avenge their defeat by New Zealand in the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010 final ahead of a three-Test series between the world’s top two nations.
The latest non-rugby training the squad have been put through their paces at is wrestling with British No-Gi wrestling submissions champion Laura Jane Adams sharing her expertise with them at an England training camp.
The use of wrestling training by rugby players is nothing new and former Wales international Non Evans went to the Commonwealth Games to wrestle only weeks after playing at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010.
“Basically what I have been teaching the players to do is execute a more efficient way of moving their bodies in the contact area,” explained Adams, who is also a coach for Premiership side Bristol Ladies.
“My speciality is grappling and destabilising my opponent so if I can teach the players to do that when they are in the breakdown/contact area and make them move their bodies more efficiently then England have the potential to get an advantage over New Zealand.”
The margins between victory and defeat have been small in the last two meetings between England and New Zealand, the Red Roses winning 10-3 at Twickenham in 2009 but the Black Ferns triumphing 13-10 in the World Cup final.
Forwards take to the air
“What we are trying to do through this session is to make the players more aware of how they can move their body, how they can make themselves a little bit stronger and at the same time unbalance an opponent as they try and win the ball in the collision areas,” explained Graham Smith, England’s assistant coach.
“Anything a player can do to manage the game in the collision area is vital. The breakdown is an important area, especially concerning the control and discipline on the ball but also the breakdown in terms of managing width ball in the way we want to play. Against the world champions this is going to be top priority for us.”
Wrestling is not the only form of non-rugby training England’s women have been undertaking in recent months with the forwards having received guidance from former trampolining Olympian Jaime Moore and Great Britain coach Tracy Whittaker-Smith.
“The idea of the trampolining lineout jumping session came from my own experiences of the sport. As a former player and a PE teacher I know that there is a real cross over in skills between the two disciplines," explained England Women’s Under 20s coach Steve Halsey.
“As part of incorporating specialist sessions for our players this season this training session was aimed at improving our forwards’ body management in the air and improving their jumping techniques. It will also help develop their height and speed confidence in the air and improve their high hand skills such as catching and manipulation of the ball, again in the air.”