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Player Column: Rhodri Usher

Thursday 22nd November 2018

I feel extremely fortunate to be able to call myself a semi-professional rugby player. Growing up I aspired to make the most of my abilities and enjoy my rugby at whatever level I found myself.

My rugby career started at Blackwood RFC. I played for the club at under-15 and under-16 level and captained Blackwood youth. I made my full debut for the side in 2009 and enjoyed five fruitful years at the club.

I signed for Pontypool RFC in the summer of 2014 and have witnessed huge change on and off the field. However, one of the areas that has always been consistent is the club's attention to detail when it comes to nutrition.

During my time at Blackwood we obviously did fitness work, but we were never given any guidance when it came to nutrition. That is something that I have always enjoyed during my time at Pooler and something that makes a big difference to your ability to perform.

Over the course of my career, I’ve been told time and again by fitness experts that your preparation, maintenance and improvement should be split 70-30 between diet and training. At Pontypool, our nutrition is overseen by Head of Performance, Rhys Dyer. As a former player, he understands what a player needs and it is helping us to go that extra mile. We pride ourselves on our fitness and playing an up tempo brand of rugby, which is only possible with a comprehensive and tailored nutrition and training programme. The saying 'you can't outrun a bad diet' is one I like and it's directly applicable to what we're trying to achieve at the club.

I've always had a natural interest in health and fitness, but you do have days and periods when you find keeping to a strict diet and way of life difficult. Having a day job makes it challenging, especially when you have to travel, but the key is preparation and planning. I bulk cook my lunches for the week ahead on the weekend, before freezing and using them when needed. It removes the stress of having to find time during the week and ensures you aren't tempted to buy fast food on your lunch break!

Outside of nutrition, we train as a team twice a week with a game on the Saturday. As a squad, we pride ourselves on our fitness so ensure we do extra work away from the club. Between Monday and Thursday I will train at the gym before work and predominantly focus my time on weight exercises. These will be done with the idea of improving my strength, power and speed, which I can also make position specific with what I need to improve on as a winger.

Balancing the demands of your day job and your playing career can be challenging, but I'm fortunate enough to enjoy the support and understanding of my family. That, coupled with the environment we enjoy at Pooler, makes the sacrifices and commitment needed seem more than worthwhile.


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