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UCLan welcomes Tongan Rugby Union team

31 October 2014

Lyndsey Boardman

The Tongan Rugby Union team is being put through its paces at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in preparation for the forthcoming Autumn Internationals.

The Tongan Rugby Union team is being put through its paces at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in preparation for the forthcoming Autumn Internationals.

The first team squad is spending three days at UCLan Sports Arena using its rugby pitches and strength and conditioning suite as part of a rigorous training schedule before facing Georgia on Saturday 8 November. The players were joined for one of the sessions by former South African Rugby Union team coach Jake White.

We’re very impressed with the facilities here at UCLan Sports Arena and will make the most of them as we prepare for our first Autumn International match next week.

Tonga Head Coach Mana Otai commented: “Training is going really well and we’re all feeling very positive. This is our first visit to Preston and the whole squad has been made to feel really welcome. We’re very impressed with the facilities here at UCLan Sports Arena and will make the most of them as we prepare for our first Autumn International match next week.”

Students from a range of sports courses at UCLan have been able to go along to some of the training sessions and watch the players and coaches in actions. Two second year sports coaching students, Oliver Hicks and Liam Reilly, have been chosen to work with the squad on performance analysis and the players also took advantage of the University’s Physiotherapy Clinic for sports massage treatment from UCLan’s second and third year sports therapy students.

It’s a massive opportunity to work so closely with the professionals and they see how they do it. We’ve videoed the players in training and can feed back to the coaching staff on specific areas.

Liam Reilly said: “It’s a massive opportunity to work so closely with the professionals and they see how they do it. We’ve videoed the players in training and can feed back to the coaching staff on specific areas. It’s been a big learning curve and we’ve been given some really useful advice.”

If the three day training camp is a success Tonga will consider using UCLan as a base for next year’s Rugby Union World Cup. It follows a series of other high profile international sports team visits when both the Irish and Fijian Rugby League teams used UCLan Sports Arena as a base camp during the Rugby League World Cup 2013. UCLan also hosted several Olympic athletes from Oceania, including Tonga, as they prepared for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

UCLan Principal Lecturer in Coaching and Performance Bryan Jones said: “Tonga’s visit is a legacy of the work we did with several Oceania countries in the build up to London 2012. Since then we have worked hard to develop this relationship and it’s fantastic that we’re now able to host yet another international rugby team right here on campus.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to see and work with professionals and hopefully we will welcome the squad again next year as they prepare for the World Cup.”

Tonga will play Georgia on Saturday 8 November, The USA on Saturday 15 November and Scotland on Saturday 22 November.

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