“We’ve got a rule in training,” England rugby’s Fiona Pocock revealed to the slightly nervous faces gathered at Reebok Sports Club
“You’re not allowed to show you’re tired. So, even when you’re completely broken, you have to stand upright. If you bend over, you get shouted at.”
And you thought your Insanity sessions were tough.
The scrum-half was joined by fellow England Women’s player Vicky Fleetwood for a masterclass ahead of the gym’s touch rugby tournament, which starts on October 7.
Both are in full-time training with the England 7s with Vicky a professional, and Fiona on trial until November.
They inspired teams already signed up to the challenge – and club members who fancied a group workout – with a session focussed on handling, footwork, an introduction to contact and evasion games.
And with stints on the prowler, bear crawls on the floor and side-passes galore, they were put through their paces.
Here, we quiz the duo on everything from their career path to the men’s World Cup.
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FP: “We both did athletics but I just got so bored, waiting to do a race that lasted 11.8 seconds. And there was no team vibe.”
VF: “They offered it at my school and I thought I would give it a go. It was touch until Christmas and you got used to the skills, then you went into contact afterwards.”
Tell us about your career
FP: I’ve had an up and down career since I was 17. I’m 26 but I’ve only been playing three to four years because I’ve had a lot of back-to-back knee injuries. Both were over two years each and, when I was feeling much better, I did my other knee.
“Each time, if it wasn’t for the training and support, I couldn’t have come back, and the stuff we do in the gym is particularly significant to on the pitch. If I hadn’t had the training behind me I wouldn’t have been able to come back.”
VF: “My experience is very different – I’ve been really lucky and had no injuries and I have played 51 times for England, and they have been back-to-back bar one.
“I was capped in July 2011 and last year I was lucky enough be part of the World Cup squad when we won the World Cup.”
And your training and nutrition?
VF: “We’ve got weight, fitness, speed, wrestling and yoga as well as rugby skills sessions. Mine is mainly hips and ankles too, and mobilisation.
“I’m trying to drop my muscle mass so rather than have a protein shake, I have a bit of milk after weights sessions and I find it satisfying.”
FP “My training is all about getting the glutes activated and making sure I am strong going into game. I’m fortunate I can eat and eat. I’m trying to put on weight as because of my time off, I lost a bit, so it’s one protein shake after another.”
How similar is your game to the men’s?
VF: “It’s exactly the same rules. We get a lot of our ideas from the men and a lot of our moves are similar. When we see England play we say ‘I’ve done that before’ and we recognise things that have come together.
“And with the 15s squad, the forwards and backs coaches are from the men’s game.”
What are England Men’s chances in the Rugby World Cup?
FP: “It’s about doing well in the pool of death – if we get the top seed out of the pool, that will start the rest of the journey.
“Wales losing players because of injury is significant but the England squad is the most exciting I have seen in a while.
“They have got youth and new players who have surprised us with their talent and its good especially because none of the other teams know them.
“There has been more recent interest in the women’s game too, especially as there’s such a close time between the women’s and men’s.”