AFYA and first Oxford University RFC Ivy League tour of USA

The Oxford Blues will kick off their first RFC Ivy League tour of America with matches against some of the most prestigious Ivy League universities.

The 15 day tour will include The Blues training with Harvard Rugby Football Club, Yale University Rugby Football Club, Princeton University Rugby Football Club and West Point, a leader in USA Collegiate Rugby.

There will also be a series of rugby matches against the prestigious Collegiate All-Americans, Mystic River Rugby Club in Boston and Old Blue RFC, one of the oldest rugby clubs in America.

Highlights of the Collegiate All Americans game at the Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia are due to be shown on ABC, NBC and Sky Sports.

AFYA Sports Training is sponsoring The Oxford Blues on their tour and its name will appear on all the kit during the team’s tour to the East Coast of America.

The tour is centred on the fixture with the Collegiate All-Americans, which will be held in conjunction with AEG as the curtain raiser for the Newcastle versus Saracens Premiership Rugby clash at Philadelphia’s Talen Energy Stadium the same day.

Whilst they are on the tour AFYA will run coaching and tackle camps with The Blues with aspiring young American rugby players as well as running community outreach programmes in New York via rugby.

AFYA is led by Ben Wood, a former Army officer and qualified RFU coach, and James Wade, a top coach who was Head of Player Development at Wasps, Head of Sale Sharks Academy and is currently Head Coach at Oxford University RUFC (The Blues).

AFYA is proud to be supporting the first Oxford University RFC Ivy League tour of the USA

Ben Wood, Managing Director of AFYA, which has a strong reputation for sports coaching excellence in the UK, said: “We’re delighted to help sponsor The Blues during this exciting tour and it’s fantastic to see the AFYA name on the match top.”

Oxford University Rugby Football Club is one of the world’s leading and most well-known amateur rugby clubs. Founded in 1869, more than 300 Oxford players have gained representative international honours since then including Phil de Glanville, Tyrone Howe, Simon Halliday and Rob Egerton.

Current Oxford Blues Captain Conor Kearns said: “We’re delighted that AFYA is on board as a key sponsor for our first tour of the East Coast of America.

“The club has a great tradition of tours reaching around the globe and it’s an exciting prospect to once again bring a Blues squad to the East Coast.”

“Replicating tours of old, we will be making use of both academic and sporting ties between Oxford and some of the most prestigious universities in the world. It will be a great opportunity to grow as a squad but also represent student sport on a global stage.”


How mindfulness can give you the sporting edge

Are you looking to give your sport that extra special edge? Perhaps you need help competing with the extreme pressure ahead of a big game.

It is thought that 90 per cent of a person’s sports performance is mental but how much time do you invest in it?

Mindfulness techniques have been around for centuries but are increasingly being taken seriously in the world of sport.

Here Richard Graham, Programme Director of Nuffield Chester, gives his top 10 mindfulness tips:

  • Start with WHY? Why do YOU want to learn about mindfulness and why do YOU feel it would be of benefit.  It is really central to any sort of behaviour change for you to have a strong ‘why’.  Mindfulness can help with a broad range of symptoms and can help you to deal with many effects of stress, but to make it personal you need to start with what you want to work on.
  • Try an app. There are some great apps out there to help you to learn and develop your mindfulness practice. Mindlab and Headspace are really good and are normally free to install and use initially. Top tip: if you work through their courses they may charge you.
  • Read all about it. I found that the work and books of Jon Kabat-Zinn were hugely valuable to me in not only understanding mindfulness but also to understand how I can make it work in my life and to be ok with not having the time to commit 45-60 mins a day to the practice.  I would recommend ‘Full Catastrophe Living’ and ‘Wherever You Go, There You Are’.
  • Breathing. If you are new to meditation, your rhythmical, regular breathing is a great and important tool to keep you in a good place to meditate.  It can also help you to return to a serene state if your mind wanders. If you haven’t tried it, have a go at Diaphragmatic Breathing – it is a great way to relax during practice.
  • Practice. It is called mindfulness practice, as that is what is required. Expect that each time you practice it will be slightly different. But that is ok.  If you don’t feel very good at it, that’s fine too. That’s why we practice!
  • Give what time you can. As with any ‘addition’ to your life, it is common for people to sometimes think they don’t have the time to do it. But remember, the chances are you have time to watch some television or scan social media each day. So why not replace 10 mins of this for some practice.
  • You are central to mindfulness. Mindfulness is not about clearing the mind or about transcendence or becoming a ‘master’. It is all about ordering and becoming aware of and allowing time for your thoughts so that you feel that you have an organised, spacious and calm mind. This takes time. Here are some other myths –
  • Sports Trackers and watches. If you are a bit of a tech geek like me, you may have a sports tracker watch. Check your settings, as many of these have a mindfulness setting. Give one of these a go. It’s a great way to track your results.
  • Make new habits. The best results from mindfulness come when it is habitual. Research suggests that habits form between 66-80 days of regular practice, so don’t be hard on yourself and expect immediate results. The changes will be gradual and some you may not expect. I know from my experience that I have become better at dealing with challenging situations since I began my practice 10 years ago. I am far from perfect, but it has helped me to improve!
  • Be kind to yourself. If you are interested in the foundations of mindfulness and want to learn more about its ancient history, I would recommend reading some of the books of Pema Chodron. She really is fantastic as, despite the Buddhist approach being not exactly mindfulness, it may help you to be reminded that mindfulness is about being kind to yourself. Give yourself time and take a moment in each day to not have to react and to re-focus. Enjoy it!

Caldy RUFC had a great training session this week with AFYA

Our top coach James Wade visited the Wirral rugby club to work with their players.

Each player received specialised training using Shadowman’s innovative training products which helped them to develop their speed, agility and one-on-one tackling and tracking.