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28 Jul 2015, General

Doha, 28 July 2015. In preparation for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in September in the UK, the Welsh Rugby National Team travelled to Doha for a 10-day training camp after spending 15 days in the Swiss Alps at 2250 metres above sea level.

Under the guidance of Prof. Mathew Wilson at Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital and training at Aspire Academy, the squad was pushed in extreme heat that often exceeded 40 degrees. The heat training was combined with altitude methods with the players sleeping in hypoxic chambers that can replicate up to 4500m above sea level, complimenting the 'live high, sleep low' methods employed in Switzerland.

“Scientific research shows that combining heat and altitude training will allow the players to perform better not only in hot conditions, but also when they get back to places where the temperatures are a lot lower,” Ryan Chambers, Sport Scientist of the Welsh Rugby Union explains the benefit of training in Qatar.  For the players it has been a great, but also quite tough experience. “We put a lot of hard work in and adapting to the heat –  almost double that of Wales – was challenging. But the conditions here are truly great, it’s fantastic to train at such world-class facilities and to push your body to the limit,” said Ken Owens.

What makes a successful rugby player? “Each position requires specific attributes, but there are, of course, generic strength, speed and fitness elements a player has to have in order to succeed at a top level.” According to Owens the goal for Wales at the World Cup can only be one: “Win it, because there’s no point being in a tournament if you don’t want to take home the trophy.” For his teammate Rhys Priestland, the performances in the group stage will be crucial. “With England and Australia we are facing two very strong teams at an early stage of the World Cup, but if we get out of the group stage anything can happen.”

Is there a big rivalry between rugby and football in Wales? “Football has become a lot more popular recently because we had Swansea and Cardiff City in the Premier League, and a lot of youngsters got the chance to see big teams like Chelsea or Manchester United come down to Wales.  At the same time we have had a lot of success with the rugby national team. In the end, both are only good for Welsh sport.” The best reason for a young boy to try out rugby? “We started playing rugby as kids because we really enjoyed it. It’s a great team sport where you can make lots of friends.” 

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