Rugby players need to be tough. We get that. But, is it really necessary to put them through military boot camp type workouts?
Reds coach Brad Thorn seems to think so. That is why the former All Black and Brisbane Broncos hardman took his team to an army camp environment for the first day to subject a bunch of rugby players to sleep deprivation and tests of infantry skills.
Thirty-nine players were treated to a morning weight workout, and then put on a bus for a ride to the Enoggera Army Barracks, headquarters for the 8th/9th Battalion for some good, old fashioned military maneuvers.
This was not the first time such tactics have been deployed. Thirty years ago, Reds boss John Connolly took the Reds to Canungra Army base on the Gold Coast for some boot camp experience.
The theory behind the exercise was to learn which players will persevere under pressure, which will rise to assume leadership roles and which cannot withstand the stress.
The players engaged in a team building exercise where they made a makeshift raft out of petrol cans and stretchers. When you stop and consider, that is remarkably similar to a rugby scrum, less the fuel cans, stretchers and water, so perhaps there is method to the madness.
Players got to try their hands at running in a crouch under barbed wire, and climbing ropes and walls. As best we know, there were no live-fire exercises, but we know only about day one of the 48-hour exercise.
According to remarks reported in The Courier-Mail by Lieutenant Jarrad Dekuyer, food rationing and other tests were, “It was an infantry-themed resilience activity to test their physical and mental toughness and take the players out of their comfort zone so they were required to look after each other.”
No report on any Reds receiving discipline for calling Dekuyer “loo-tenant, as opposed to left-tenant, but ther is only so much that can be expected of rugby players.