Cal Rugby has a long history of success on the rugby pitch, and they continued to add to it this 2016 season by accomplishing something that has never been done before. The team entered the Varsity National Championship as massive underdogs, but came out on top by turning a 10 deficit into an 11-point victory despite trailing for 70 of the 80-minute contest. The Golden Bears didn’t stop there. Recently the team won their 4th straight, yes 4th, 7s Championship by beating the UCLA Bruins 31-7 making this their 31st overall title. Cal Rugby is the first collegiate program to EVER claim the 15s and 7s titles in the same year. So how did this team go from being considered an “underdog” to winning both National Championships in the same year?
As is standard practice, in high performance teams a post-action performance audit has begun, dissecting the rugby team’s preparations and performance. Cal Rugby believes it’s best can always be better.
While both performances were nationally broadcasted, few witnessed the daily training environment Cal Rugby has created in Berkeley. Central to this daily training environment is Sparta Performance Science and its technology. We sat down with associate head coach Tom Billups, who is also responsible for the team’s strength and conditioning program, to better understand what specific role Sparta played in the program’s first 15s national title since 2011 and the 4th consecutive 7s Championships.
“In sport, devising a game plan is fairly commonplace for collegiate coaches, the challenge lies with assisting the student athletes who are responsible for executing that game plan under competitive stress to be successful. The player’s understanding of the game plan, and the belief that comes from that understanding, made a difference. Our initial performance audit shows we had a better plan.”
“Our team has really embraced using Sparta’s technology and the Sparta Signature™ driven workouts. I believe our athletes have benefited from having a better more individualized (game) plan based solely on what they need. By having a greater understanding of not just what exercise movements will help them improve the most, but also how to execute the movement to gain the best training effect, mirrors our approach on the rugby pitch.”
Cal Rugby has been utilizing Sparta Software for the last 2 seasons in their training efforts. Sparta’s patented force plate technology and powerful analytic software allows the team to maximize performance by targeting the athlete’s needs, both individually and sport specific, as well as monitor injury risk and player fatigue.
“Though we might not have been physically as big or rugby talented as our 15s opponent in the varsity cup championship match, we had a better plan. We have Dr. Wagner and his staff to thank for helping us with better strength training plan. Our best can always be better”.