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University hosts testing day for England rugby team ahead of World Cup

University of Gloucestershire played host to members of the England rugby team yesterday in support of their continuing preparations for this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Thanks to the university’s excellent sporting facilities and location, its Oxstalls campus proved a perfect base for England’s players based at clubs in London, the West and South West to undergo an assessment day.

As well as strength, sprinting and jumping assessments, the players were given medical and movement screening, and carried out a simulated rugby task in the University’s environmental chamber, cycling for 20 minutes in elevated temperatures and at 60% humidity.

The assessment day will help ensure the players can be supported to be in peak condition for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations (starting on 4 February, 2023) and the Rugby World Cup in France in September, where temperatures could hit the mid-30s, particularly in the southern cities.

University of Gloucestershire students were able to observe as the players were put through their paces by England’s specialist support team.

Professor Mark de Ste Croix, Professor of Paediatric Sport and Exercise at University of Gloucestershire, said: “It’s great for the students to see the same specialist kit that we use to teach them, like the environmental chamber, force plates, telemetry kit and timing gates, being used to assess elite athletes.

“When they see the professional support staff for the England rugby team using the same tests and kit that we use for injury management and to measure hydration, core temperature and sodium content, it gives them confidence about using their skills and knowledge on placement and in their future careers.

“It’s always gratifying when the strength of our relationships and facilities enables us to host top level sporting professionals, and for our students to benefit from this opportunity. It is also wonderful of course to know we’ve played a part in supporting the England team in a World Cup year and we would love to continue to develop that relationship.”

Prof de Ste Croix co-ordinated the assessment day with Professor Graham Close, lead nutritionist for the England rugby team and Professor at Liverpool John Moore University, where the players based further north carried out their testing day.

Third year Sports Therapy student, Lucy Burnett, added: “It has been such a unique opportunity to observe the huge range of tests and assessments being carried out. It’s pretty surreal seeing the same techniques that we use to practice on each other being used on the England rugby team!”

Third year Strength and Conditioning degree student, Milly Pittaway, said: “It’s been a great experience and has given me confidence in employing the skills and knowledge we learn on our degree programmes in future.”

Second year Strength and Conditioning degree student, Jamie Scarrott, was also part of the student support team, who are all on the sports scholarship programme at the university. The programme help talented athletes, officials and aspiring coaches achieve their goals across a wide range of sports, and scholars are able to combine this bespoke support with any degree programme.

Photos credit: RFU Collection/Getty Images