Feeling inspired after a weekend of world-class rugby?

Although it may not have been the result we hoped for, if anything’s going to inspire us to get active, it’s the Rugby World Cup Final that took place this weekend! I spoke to someone who knows all about the skills you need to become an International Rugby player - London Irish Winger, Ben Loader.

Ben’s week is a busy one. Not many people could balance a professional sporting career, studying for university and a social life, but somehow he manages it. Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays are dedicated training days, meaning early starts which don’t finish until about 3pm. This includes a gym session; team meetings and on-pitch practice each day.

During the week, he also studies for his degree and weekends are dedicated to matches – the team has to travel pretty far away for matches sometimes. In all of this, he still manages to maintain a social life and see his family. Every student needs a trip home to get their laundry done and home-cooked food, and he’s no exception!

Nutrition is taken very seriously at London Irish, and the normal student diet hardly cuts it. But as he spends a lot of time at the club, most of his meals are provided. Outside training days, Ben’s diet is high-protein and balanced, consisting of bagels, avocados, greek yogurt and protein shakes. All easy to make and low-fuss, perfect for a busy timetable.

While having a nutritionist and maintaining a fantastic level of fitness is a great reason to play sport, these aren’t the only benefits that come with playing rugby.

Playing for London Irish has given him the incredible opportunity to have a career he loves, while being around a diverse team of people. There’s one person in his house who can’t even use a microwave – but others on the pitch have their own families. The social aspect is unparalleled to any other environment.

“I’ve met so many people I wouldn't have met otherwise. In school, you think of people as the year above or below you. On the pitch, you have thirty-year-old besides an eighteen- year-old. One of my best friends has just had a baby! The great thing is that it doesn’t matter about your age – it’s based on ability and I’ve made friends for life.”

So why should you get involved?

Not only can it help improve upper and lower-body strength, your cardiovascular fitness will increase drastically. A preliminary study found rugby players cover an average distance of 4.45 km to 6.84km in one game, so not only do you burn plenty of calories, it’s a great way to get your steps up!

Local clubs have huge varieties of teams, so even if you’re 50 years old and looking to begin – they’ll have the perfect group for you. If the hands-on side of rugby is scaring you off, there are plenty of other options.

Touch rugby involves a great deal of both skill and speed. Rather than tackling your opponent you can instead touch them on part of the body, clothing, or even the ball. There are no scrums but all the fitness benefits of the full-contact game, as well as being a great way to socialise. O2 Touch have some great social sessions for over 16’s here. 

Tag Rugby is often used for younger people looking to build up their confidence before playing the contact game. It is often the way most people are introduced to rugby when they are younger – but who says it needs to end there? Contact your local club and see if you can join a non-contact team now.

If you want to keep up to date on Ben’s progress follow him on Instagram (@benloader) or check out the London Irish social media for all the latest news. 

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