BACK-TO-BACK postponements have seen no let-up in the physical exertions of Newcastle Falcons, whose players have been subjected to the energy-sapping anguish of the yo-yo test.
With games against Cross Keys and Cornish Pirates both beaten by the big freeze, the prospects of a gentle work-load were never likely and a 20-metre tunnel of pain was what greeted them first thing yesterday morning at Gateshead College’s world-class indoor training facility.
Even hardened ten-year Premiership veterans were shifting nervously in their seats as they laced up their trainers.
The coaches on the sidelines were admitting under their breath this was the day they all dreaded.
Head of strength and conditioning Andy Smith explained: “The yo-yo test is very similar to the old beep test – the only difference being a ten-second rest between each interval.
“The reason we use it is because it is more applicable to rugby union, which is a little bit more stop-start, and as you go through the levels the beeps get closer and closer together and you have to run faster to keep going.”
Split into three groups (half-backs and back-row, front-five forwards and three-quarters) the shouts and claps of encouragement increased in pace and volume as the beeps did in tempo – bodies dropping out one by one as legs and lungs finally gave way.
“The yo-yo test is never something they look forward to,” admitted Smith, who has been able to get his hands on the players for what amounts to a “mini pre-season” due to their double postponements.
“Most of them have done it a few times now, it is not one of the more enjoyable tests they will do and they know it is going to hurt.
“For that reason there are very few players who like doing it, although Will Welch for some reason seems to enjoy the pain!