A few months back we thought it would be a good idea to run a mid term rugby camp for the minis in Lansdowne. A few calls and one meeting later the decision was made and a stellar coaching panel was assembled:
* Mike Ruddock - Head Coach
* Will Matthews - Forwards Coach
* Mark Roche - Backs Coach
* Ciaran Walsh - S&C / Nutrition Coach
* Brendan O'Connell - Physio
The next decision was do we cater for a cross section of the youths and minis or focus in on a narrower age range. We elected to offer 40 places to the U13 and 14 age groups. This was a good fit for several reasons:
1. Ruddock and his team are masters of the full 15-a-side game and both the U13 and U14 suited this perfectly.
2. The U13 are playing their first year on the full pitch with a whole host of new rules so we felt they would probably benefit most from the expertise on offer.
3. The U14, with a year of full pitch under their belt, were looking for additional coaching insight. The opportunity to have Ruddock and his coaching panel for a mid term camp was priceless in terms of knowledge and expertise.
With 40 places on offer we felt confident that the camp would sell out but yet we were unsure as this was a first for the club's minis and youths. There was no need to worry. The camp's 40 spaces filled quite quickly with 20 from each age group.
It was interesting in that we began to receive requests not only from other age groups within Lansdowne but from other clubs in the Dublin area. This was further proof that we were on the right track in running the camp and it also reaffirmed the status of Mike Ruddock as a rugby coach of renown and recognition.
The camp itself was divided into a series of sessions and workshops covering various aspects of the game. The boys were brought through various exercise routines in the Lansdowne gym by Ciaran Walsh, with the key emphasis being on the boys using their own body weight and not using any of the gym equipment.
In the Zurich room the entire squad did a session on nutrition and they were introduced to the nutritional approach to maintaining a healthy and growing body. The session was followed by a Q&A which was fielded by Mark Roche. Mark provided great insight and the squad, to a boy, were glued to his every word. This also delivered another key insights into how attuned the boys are to the benefits of a good diet.
On the pitch the boys underwent a series of sessions focussing on various aspects of the game: forward and back play that was interspersed with specific exercises.
On the final day the U13s played the U14s and this was a good game. Under the watchful eye of Ruddock, Matthews and Roche they refereed a very competitive game.
As this was the first midterm rugby camp in the club I asked my CEO, Marc O'Dywer if I could step forward and lend a hand and Marc, a life long rugby fan, agreed. Big Red Cloud also provided all 40 boys with water bottles and provided lunch on Day One and Day Two.
The inaugural Mike Ruddock Rugby Academy was a roaring success. I polled all the boys if they enjoyed it and I got a resounding yes. More importantly, they were all able to highlight technical aspects of the camp that they felt were going to improve their game. This was a ringing endorsement of the campy syllabus that Mike Ruddock put together.
My final thought on this rugby camp - as a coach myself at Lansdowne FC, it was a privilege to be able to watch this master class in action. The boys wren't the only ones that came away enriched.
Yours in rugby,
Head Coach U13 & Faculty of Rugby Director, Lansdowne FC
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