By Dr. J. ZIMMERMAN
It’s rugby time at the Jersey Shore. I know what you are thinking, “Didn’t rugby season just end?” It definitely seems that way.
If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that the Jersey Shore Rugby Club finished its fall season the week before Thanksgiving. The beautiful thing about rugby is that it is a three-season-per-year sport. And now it is time to begin preparations for the spring 2017 season.
January is preseason training. This is the month when my players begin to train to get their bodies in shape for the rigors of spring rugby.
Rugby is an 80-minute sport involving lots of contact and plenty of running. It is often said that the forwards in rugby cover 5-to-6 miles of ground during in a single match. Throw in some non-stop tackling, sprinting, springing up from the ground, jumping and lifting, and you can see why preseason training is so important.
Rugby is like one very long wrestling match — or a neverending cross fit training session (with tackles!).
The players need to be physically ready to play. Their cardio fitness has to be at its highest level to endure and prosper in an 80-minute match. Their strength and agility has to be at its peak for the players to outperform their opponents.
Preseason training is crucial for those reasons and it is also crucial for player safety. The stronger and more flexible the muscles and surrounding soft tissue of the athlete’s body, the less chance of injury.
Most injuries that occur in rugby are preventable by the player being in top physical shape. Out-of-shape players equals injuries. And, obviously, injured players lower the chance of success for the overall team.
So, here we are in January and do you know where my players are? In addition to their own personal training, two nights per week, the Sharks are at the Bullpen Training Center on Fire Road in Egg Harbor Township, hanging-and-banging the bars, weights, sleds, ropes, pylometric boxes and kettle bells.
Between sets, they are running sprints, doing push-ups and chin-ups and flipping tires. Everything needed to get the team in shape for weekly rugby matches.
After four weeks of preseason training, the team will be ready for outdoor practice. The spring season practices will start outdoors in mid- February with more conditioning, rugby skill drills, tackling practice and mini-rugby games.
By mid-March, the Sharks will be starting their spring competitive season and, hopefully, with all of this training, they will be ready to go and play really good rugby.
If any of this sounds interesting to you, January is also the time of the year when we recruit for new players. No experience is necessary, we teach you everything you need to know. The only requirements to play rugby are the desire to compete, prevail and excel.
Rugby isn’t the bowling league or the slo-pitch softball team. It’s a very real, competitive sport with true athletes competing at their very best, working toward divisional, regional and national championships.
Rugby will develop the following four traits in its athletes: Strength, fitness, character and respect. These are the traits of exceptional rugby players. If you feel you already have these traits, now is time to take it to the next level and become a rugby player.
The Jersey Shore Sharks are recruiting for our men’s club and our high school team. Men’s club rugby consists of athletes from the ages of 18 to 35 (or slightly older, if you still have it). College students from ACCC and Stockton University compete on our men’s club team.
The Sharks’ high school team is a club sport and is made up of athletes from all different high schools in the Atlantic and Cape May county areas.
Anyone can play. Rugby is perfect for football players wanting to stay in shape for next season, and it’s also a great way for football players to improve their tackling skills and agility.
In addition, wrestlers, track and field athletes and basketball players all make good rugby players.
As I said above, it’s time to start! Contact me with the information below and you can be having the time of your life playing the fastest growing sport in the country and second-most popular sport in the world.
Dr. J. Zimmerman is the president of the Jersey Shore Rugby Club Board of Directors. He is the men’s club head coach and director of youth rugby. Dr. J. is also the team chiropractor. For more information on Jersey Shore Sharks Rugby or if you are interested in playing, visit www.JerseyShoreRugby.com or on Facebook at Jersey Shore Rugby Club, or call 609-652-6363 or email: Jerseyshoresharks@gmail.com.