From fitness to flipping crêpes, rugby players across the globe are adopting very different approaches to killing time during coronavirus lockdowns. Here we round up some of the highlights we’ve seen so far.
King Carlos returns
There are few players in the history of rugby capable of performing the near impossible better than Carlos Spencer. Since the New Zealand lockdown began, the former All Black, alongside his son Payton, has been rolling back the years with a series of showboating challenges shared on Payton’s TikTok account. They aren’t to be missed.
Also bringing out the skills: fellow fly-halves Quade Cooper and Beauden Barrett. Cooper, who like Spencer is known for having a trick or two up his sleeve, pulled off a mind-bending pass that will surely be attempted on training pitches worldwide when they reopen. Barrett, on the other hand, has been using his time off to perfect his kicking skills. The 2016 and 2017 World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Year has been taking on a series of impressive challenges off the boot.
Meanwhile, England and Harlequins star Rachael Burford has been creating lockdown challenges of her own. Burford, the RWC 2014 winner who runs the Burford Academy which runs rugby training sessions for female players, has been setting her Twitter followers a new skills challenge every Tuesday. The centre has also been sharing how she’s staying active during lockdown.
Workouts with a difference
Matches may be off and training pitches closed, but that doesn’t mean players aren’t still keeping fit. With many without gym equipment to use, they’ve had to get creative…
Springbok Women's captain, Babalwa Latsha, has taken that to the extreme by using weights that you wouldn’t usually find being lifted in the gym. Away from fitness, the team have been using the lockdown as an opportunity for fans to get to know the players better. The @WomenBok’s ‘lockdown lunch date’ Twitter series has seen members of the squad taking turns to reveal interesting facts about themselves.
Red Roses flanker Vicky Fleetwood has been putting her other career as a personal trainer to good use by sharing home workout tutorials. Rather than following Latsha and using the weight of a family member to train, Fleetwood has instead made sure that her exercises are based around typical household items. Likewise, Canada international turned online fitness entrepreneur, Phil Mackenzie, has been sharing some home fitness tutorials of his own.
Culinary skills and player diaries
We know rugby players can perform amazing skills and aren’t shy of a workout session, but what else has kept them occupied?
For Rugby World Cup winning fly-half, All Black Aaron Cruden, and Bordeaux Bègles’ former Wallabies number eight Scott Higginbotham, it’s been the kitchen. The pair have both been taking advantage of their time off by honing their culinary skills. Cruden, who like Higginbotham spent time playing in France, has clearly brought the traditional French crêpe back with him to New Zealand.
Elsewhere, others have been using this time to share what life is like as a rugby player – or, at least, what life is like as a rugby player during a pandemic. England winger Jack Nowell, Bath fly-half Freddie Burns, and Ireland back Andrew Conway are just some of the many players that have been giving an insight into their lives. Meanwhile, Sky Sport’s ‘Isolation Nation’ YouTube series and its host, former All Black Israel Dagg, have been investigating what New Zealand’s players have been up to.
One other player pulling back the curtain on life under quarantine is India captain, Vahbiz Bharucha. From her work as a physiotherapist, to team ‘workout of the day’ sessions, and studying old games, Bharucha has kept fans involved in her daily routine from her Pune home.
Breaking the internet
Finally, since lockdowns began the internet has been awash with new challenges. Among various ones involving toilet roll, the ‘blinding lights challenge’ has arguably captured the most attention and imagination, including from a group of Canadian players paying tribute to rugby and longing for its return.