Water breaks will help players

The British & Irish Lions will have special water breaks fitted into their opening tour match against the Barbarians to combat the heat in Hong Kong on Saturday. [more]

Water breaks will help players

The British & Irish Lions will have special water breaks fitted into their opening tour match against the Barbarians to combat the heat in Hong Kong on Saturday.

With temperatures set to soar to 33 degrees centigrade on match day, and humidity likely to reach 80%, the players have been granted two water breaks per half to ensure they rehydrate properly in the extreme conditions.

The Lions medical team have been using fans at pitchside to help cool players down during training and they will also use ice vests and ice towels to ease the conditions and make the players more comfortable on the opening day of the 125th anniversary tour.

There will be breaks after 15 and 30 minutes in each half to allow the players to take on board fluids to avoid dehydration. The breaks should also ensure the quality of game is not adversely affected.

“In the kind of heat and humidity the players will be playing in at the weekend you have to do the right thing. The breaks after 15 and 30 minutes will allow them to cool down,” said assistant coach Andy Farrell.

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“It’s just commonsense and you have to do the right thing. The water breaks will be quick and won’t stop the game from being a spectacle.

“I played in these conditions in Papua New Guinea once. It’s good for the players to get out in the sun and get used to the humidity and sweat the flight out of themselves.

“They are weighed before and after training, they have urine tests every day and they fill in wellness charts. On the first day we trained it was 85% humidity and some of the players lost 3-4kgs in weight.

“The next day we had some breaks, had the fans at the side of the pitch and some of the boys only lost 1k. So we think we have got it pretty well covered.

“We’ve got ice vests to cool the body down, ice towels to go over the head. But once they are in the middle of the game and thinking about rugby they won’t be thinking about the heat.

“We were able to condition them in our training camps in Cardiff and Dublin and get them up to Test match intensity and they are all in brilliant nick.

“They have adapted fantastically well, trained very hard and now they are all itching for a game. The heat won’t be a problem -. They’ve coped very well with the conditions in training in the morning and in the afternoon when it has been even hotter.”

Farrell’s son, Owen, will be one of 17 new Lions pulling on the famous red jersey for the first time in the opening fixture and his partnership with Mike Phillips at half-back will be one of the key combinations for the tourists.

“Everyone is a little bit nervous. This is the start that everyone has been waiting for and everyone wants to put their best foot forward,” said Farrell..

“These players are the best of the best, good Test match arena players and they cope with pressure really well. Everyone is learning and what has stood out for me is how quickly the players adapt and their work ethic.

“They solve problems out straight away and they do their homework. We’ve been training for three weeks now and we are itching for a game. We need to get out there and make some mistakes and get some footage to examine and work on.

“The rugby intelligence is there for all to see in this group and everyone is focussed on trying to deliver what should be a great day. The first few weeks have flown by. And all the boys are itching to get going.”

Note from British & Irish Lions Head of Strength and Conditioning Adam Beard
“Many professional football and Australian football teams are using heat stress, such as our preparation time in Hong Kong, for similar gains to that of training at altitude, with the latest research showing these adaptations occurring in a much shorter time span.

"I spent time abroad at the latest altitude conference for teams sports with some of the world experts on environmental physiology in March with some very new research which was presented on heat stress and specific adaptations occurring in small time spans and lasting up to four weeks, which is obviously very good for us.

”We use individual hydration strategies along with systematic hydration testing, ice vests to cool the core temperature and cooling fans and feel that the heat will give us a physiological benefit come the Australian East Coast part of the campaign which is what we are aiming at.”

Aids to hydration – 12 giant water fans at training, hydration testing and replacement, adidas ice gel vests, Maximuscle hydration products

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