How do the Marauders spend their summer?
Out of school and away from their teams, how do McMaster's athletes spend their time off?
In December, the Silhouette asked athletes how they spent their winter break. With a much longer summer break quickly approaching, it only seemed right to check back in with Marauders athletes as to how they’ll be spending their summer.
McMaster’s men’s rugby team played their last game of the season on Oct. 23, but that doesn’t mean their training has stopped. Matthew Bazinet, a member of the team, took the time to discuss the training that the team has undergone thus far and the training that its members will be taking on over the course of the summer.
Heading into the summer offseason, or as Bazinet called it, the “pre-season,” the team continues to hold high expectations of their players in preparation for the season to come. They are provided with training regimes prior to their departure which they must follow almost religiously, regardless of whether they’re able to stay at the school.
“During the pre-season we are [supposed] to go to the [high performance area] at McMaster. There are certain workouts that you have to complete two to three times a week . . . We focus on growth, so getting bigger and staying healthy and functional,” said Bazinet.
He really stressed the importance of building muscle for the team, mentioning the HPA several times as a critical component for pre-season training. During the summer months McMaster keeps the HPA open through extended hours in an effort to aid its athletes in finding the time in their schedule to keep improving. However, this is only a help to those who opt to remain in Hamilton during their time off.
“The HPA at McMaster, for people who stay in Hamilton, stays open, and they widen their times so that people who work different shifts are still able to come in and make their lift times. Then, for people that go home [outside of Hamilton], they have to have a sit down with the coaches to discuss where you’re going to be working out, how you’re going to be working out, if you can’t follow the HPA lifts [exactly], how are you going to substitute the exercises,” explained Bazinet.
The HPA is a go-to spot for athletes that has been mentioned by athletes countless times through the year, as one might expect given the elite atmosphere and training capabilities it enables. Using the HPA or trying to emulate that experience elsewhere for the athletes who don’t remain in Hamilton is just one part of the summer training experience.
As a team with a fairly short regular season, the rugby team realizes that there’s more to training than just muscle building. Although it is a key component and remains a massive focus for a majority of the summer, it’s also important to keep your game skills sharp.
“It’s really hard to progress as rugby players if you only play six to eight games in a season during the OUA. [Coach] uses the term ‘it’s absolutely vital to our success as a rugby team that everybody, whether they stay in Hamilton, or go home for the summer, that they are playing some form of rugby.’ Those are the requirements in order to uphold your role on the team — two lifts in the summer per week and playing rugby,” said Bazinet.
Over the course of the pre-season, the team typically has a general goal to work towards. For the upcoming pre-season, the goal is muscle building. Despite that, they still make sure to switch up their training programs through time to continue working towards a well-rounded result before getting back on the field.
“We do change our regimens usually about once every one to two months . . . We’re mainly focusing on hypertrophy or getting bigger. As we get closer to the season we start to add in more conditioning, we start to add in more functional movement. That’s because you’re now preparing your body for sport, not just getting bigger. That’s just to try and make sure less people get injured over the season,” explained Bazinet.
In the later months of the summer nearer to the start of the season, the team eventually comes together for a training camp at McMaster. This high intensity camp is meant to get the team back together and working towards a common goal as a unit. Between fitness testing, gelling together and polishing your in-game skills, the team is using this time to ensure they hit the ground running once the season starts.
“Five days a week during those weeks we practice and get ready for the season . . . The training camp isn’t about brushing up your rugby skills. The training camp is about getting back together and working collectively as a team. That’s the goal of the whole training camp, take in new players, see who’s gonna fit in and build a squad before the season begins,” said Bazinet.
There is a long journey ahead before many of McMaster’s teams return to play and in that time the Marauders will be found continuing to train all summer long, whether it be in the HPA or in a gym closer to their hometown. There’s a reason why university athletes are so talented and dedicated — even during their time off, the high intensity never stops.