The Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) and Wattbike have announced a partnership with the aim to optimise the fitness, precision and performance of the Italian Rugby Team, Benetton Rugby and Zebre Rugby.
The partnership will see Wattbike and the FIR work closely together over the next 12 months to develop new training methodologies and analyse the impact the Wattbike can have on off-feet conditioning, rehabilitation and performance. This ground-breaking research will shape a new direction for elite training and will impact the efficiency and precision of performance programmes across many sports.
Pete Atkinson, Head of Human Performance at FIR, comments: “Working with a technology and training partner such as Wattbike allows us to boost the National Team and helps us to efficiently train those players who need to offload following a match day, or those with a background of injury, in order to maintain the highest possible level of fitness.
“The intention is to develop the partnership and use Wattbike’s bespoke knowledge of performance and elite sport to help us prescribe specific sessions to our athletes. As we develop the partnership, Wattbike will send their staff to share information with our coaching teams on cycling fitness and the cross-training benefits of this to our sport-specific goals. It represents a great option to be smart, and more precise in our training”.
As part of the collaboration, Wattbike has provided Italian Rugby with four Wattbike Pros and two Wattbike Trainers. Three of the bikes are based at the training ground at Benetton Treviso and the others are located with Zebre Rugby in Parma.
“Placing the bikes in this way gives the best possible exposure to the majority of players who make up the National Squad,” Atkinson explains. “We are now working closely with Wattbike to enhance the precision and individual focus of rugby conditioning in Italy. There is a great opportunity in this country for us to step up a number of levels in terms of our physical performance.”
The Wattbike has already formed a crucial part of the elite conditioning training programme, with players using the bike for rehabilitation, recovery and key aerobic and anaerobic training.
Commenting on the partnership, Italian Rugby head coach Conor O’Shea adds: “We’re on a journey to create a team that the nation can be proud of, and the partnership with Wattbike is an incredibly important element of this. We want to change perceptions and have the ability to prescribe individual training to maximise the potential of each of our players.
“The fundamentals are good, the players have ability and they are willing to work hard. We feel that if we can direct their efforts more precisely to maximise their own specific physical developments then the collective sum of all these improved parts will lead to a positive step change.”
Predominantly the Wattbikes are currently being utilised with players who struggle to do consecutive training days on the field due to injuries or for players who are currently in rehabilitation.
From a player’s perspective, Dean Budd, Italian National Second Row and captain at Benetton Treviso, adds: “My training and match performances have improved since using the Wattbikes. They’ve enabled me to reach a higher fitness level and I’ve had fewer injuries this season thanks to the off-feet training. Sessions on the bikes are tough, but there’s been a marked improvement in our performance and preparation.”
Richard Baker, managing director at Wattbike, added, “Over the past five years we have worked with top rugby players and teams from around the world to understand the best ways the Wattbike can be used to enhance player performance.
“Having the opportunity to work with the FIR and be part of their journey to develop the competitiveness of their national team is something we are very proud to be part of. We look forward to sharing our knowledge and training expertise as they seek to take the national team to the next level.”
Wattbike and the FIR will be working together to research the different performance interventions over the next 12 months, and results will be released that will shape a new focus for elite training programmes.