Rugby Fitness, BC.
In an effort to bring you information which will help you to improve your performance and reach the next level we reached out to a guy who is known for not only achieving such feats for himself, but doing it with others. Billy Coffey is a rugby player and strength and conditioning coach for the Wanderers Rugby Union Football Club in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. His approach as always been unconventional but his commitment to what he believes will work (having tested it out) has never waivered.
Before we have Billy share his tips we wanted to share a bit about this guy and the impact he’s having on the rugby training world.
Using his approach Billy took his previous club the Merewether Greens from a struggling club in 6th place to first place, becoming the first team in the club’s past 40 years to reach first place via an undefeated season which won both the major and minor premierships.
Billy wanted to test his approach and thus relocated to the California Republic in 2011where he used the time to train with ex-NFL players in the understanding development of power and speed. During that time in California, Billy played with the Los Angeles Rugby Football Club, as well as the touring side The Vandals and played twice in the Cow Pie Classic in Steamboat Springs, CO with the local Steamboat side (winning the tournament both times). While playing rugby in LA, working with former athletes, Billy also worked as a fitness trainer where he would apply his learning and theories to real people.
In 2013 he returned to Australia and took on a position with the Wanderers as the Strength and Conditioning Coach (as well as joining their ranks as a player). In just one season of applying the program he’d developed while in LA, the Wanderers had everyone of their sides in grand finale including their 3rd, and 4th sides, their women’s side, their Under 21st and the Under 18s (an all but the 2nd side sides won their final)! This record breaking feat (of having an Australian club places all its sides in a final) was attributed to the fitness and strength program Billy applied to the club and all its sides.
Billy’s player performance program assisted three of the Wanderers players after that season in being selected to play for the Super Rugby side; Melbourne Rebels! Prior to Billy’s work as the strength and conditioning coach with Wanderers and implementation of this program no player from Newcastle has been selected to a Super League side.
At just 27 years of age, Billy has now gained the attention of some of Australia’s top athletes including players from Super Rugby and the National Rugby League (NRL) who seek him out to develop a training program for them, consult with him and even travel to Newcastle to train with him in person. In the meantime Billy continues to influence how rugby players are trained with his innovative approaches, while seeking to continue to research new techniques. Billy is having an influence which is shifting how health and fitness professionals go about the performance training for athletes in Australia.
Billy is now sponsored by Australia Sports Nutrition as well. Check out some of the promotional videos he’s done for them (on his Instagram @billybascoffey). He’s going to be a legend! Billy is still playing rugby as well and continues to have success as a player at the top levels.
RR (Rugby Republic) – When did you first start playing rugby?
BC (Billy Coffey)- In Newcastle, Australia. I started out in the under 12’s playing rugby league, then my team went their separate ways in the Under 16s and a friend suggested I play rugby union with him. The next thing you know I was one of the youngest to debut for the first level side at the age of 15.
RR- What clubs have you played for in Australia?
BC- I have played for three clubs in Newcastle, those being the Lake Macquarie Roo’s, the Merewether Carlton Greens, and then the Wanderers Rugby Club (whom I still am a part of) and in the pro-leagues I play in Sydney (I played for the North Sydney Rugby Club).
RR- Who do you play/work for now?
BC- I’m a player for the Wanderers Rugby Union Football Club aka “the two blues”. I also work as the club’s strength and conditioning coach and train all the players from all levels of the club.
RR- How/when did you get into the fitness/training side and what was your interest in that area?
BC- I got into fitness and training when I first left high school, and it was by accident. I got very good grades in high school and was accepted into the mining engineering program at New South Wales University in Sydney.
Well…I made a mistake with the final application and the slot fell through, so I was going to have to wait a full year before I could re-apply. In this year off I focused on rugby and training and a friend who lost 20kgs (just under 45lbs) with me assisting him suggested I should consider going into fitness fulltime.
Unaware of the industry I did some research, next thing you know I was accepted into Australia’s Institute of Fitness.
In 2008 I finished top of my class at the Australian Institute of Fitness and as a reward they gave me a franchisee license at Fitness First. I have dedicated my career and life to health and fitness since then.
RR- When did you connect the fitness to rugby?
BC- Rugby is my passion and I have always enjoyed playing it at a high level. I was never the fastest or the biggest, so I spent all my days in the gym trying to change that. All of a sudden not only was I bigger than any other player in my position (Center) but I was the fastest in the whole competition over 40 meters (about 44yards). People started to ask questions about how I did it and I actually had the answers!
RR- How have you been able to work that into a fulltime career?
BC-Connecting the two was all trial and error. I hand picked a few players on my team and trained them the same way I trained myself.
It was always a bonus being able to play the game at a competitive level still, to understand the demand on the body in the modern game. The players I trained began to excel, once one of them earned the MVP Award I had cemented by name in the fitness industry from that point onward.
RR- What are you doing now with training rugby players?
BC- I have opened up a “performance factory” where I train players from the ages of 15yrs of age and up four days a week. I also have a handful of professional athletes that train with me outside of their club schedule to improve their game with power, speed, and conditioning concentrations.
RR- How did you develop your program?
BC- My training program has been developed from nine years of practical application. Just a lot of work and learning. As for the “performance factory” that program has been developed hand in hand with Super Rugby’s Melbourne Rebels backs coach Todd Louden.
RR- How did you become the team’s strength and conditioning coach?
BC- My first Strength and Conditioning (S&C) coaching job was attained through personal performance. My coach called me on the phone and told me I was aggressive, fast, and had a high work-rate and he wanted the rest of the team to be like me. He wanted me to work with them to develop that in my peers. So I took on my first fulltime S&C coaching job with my club.
The job I currently hold as head S&C Coach at the Wanderers Rugby Club was attained by the club seeking me out. Through the word of mouth the Wanderers contacted me. A few players that had excelled in that club (and at different levels) were clients of mine, so they gave me a call. So hard work and results.
RR- What are your personal tips for kids young ruggers starting out?
BC- Eat your greens. (That is simple).
Train what you don’t see in the mirror.
The longer it takes you to get the results the harder it is to loose them.
HYDRATION! Hydration is the number one key to success.
Rest/Recovery- Get your 8 hours of sleep.
Consistency, Cortisol, and Content! Those are the three C’s to success.
RR- How can focusing on fitness for young players help them?
BC- Fatigue causes clumsiness. Avoid fatigue and you avoid clumsiness. Its basic.
RR- What are some suggestions for things the youngsters could focus on?
BC- Scapula stability- look up workouts and things to help with that.
Glute activation (for power and speed), again lots of things that help with that.
Connective tissue training (so high reps to fatigue, NOT heavy weights).
RR- Lastly why do you think fitness is key to becoming a good player at any level?
BC- Rugby is 10% talent, and 90% fitness. What good is a Ferrari if you can only drive it to then end of your street and back?
You can follow Billy YouTube for tips and great videos!