Name: Paul Bosch
Western Province & Stormers (Currie Cup & Super14)
Montpellier (Top 14 & Heineken Cup)
Current Job: Pastor in training
Rugby and crossfit training seem to be very closely assosciated these days, so I caught up with former Montpellier rugby player, Paul Bosch, in between his busy training as a Pastor and Crossfit schedule, to ask him about how he feels about the paralells between rugby and crossfit. With lots of Crossfit boxes opening up across the country, Westcombe Park RFC are one of the first clubs to have its own Crossfit box in the rugby gym...
Paul, thank you for allowing us to talk to you about your rugby career and your current training. I know you are a big Crossfit Fan, how long have you been involved in Crossfit?
I have been involved in Crossfit since 2012, when my wife who is also an athlete, joined a box. I didn’t really train that much at the box to begin with as being part of a professional setup meant there wasn’t really time for training outside of rugby. My wife ended up doing her Level 1 CrossFit trainer’s course, so Crossfit has been “part of the family “ ever since.
How often do you do Crossfit, and what do you feel it brings to your training that other techniques don’t?
I do about 3 sessions a week at our local box (Tiger Pit Crossfit), and 2 sessions a week at home (we have a mini box at home in the garage).
I love the mindset of crossfit; you're constantly competing against yourself, your mates and the clock.
The crossfit methodology has acqired a lot of critics and I believe that's because there is a difference between somebody that trains, and an athlete. When you're an athlete you don't train to get it finished, you train to improve, which means constantly challenging yourself and pushing the boundaries of your own abilities.
This means, similarly to rugby, injuries are a possibility.
If you have got any weaknesses, crossfit will expose them and force you to improve that movement or exercise in order to stay competitive. I truly believe that a crossfit athlete is the complete athlete and there is a real paralell with Rugby, as it's also very unique when you look at the diverse range of skills you need to master to be a good player.
Crossfit, like rugby has got an amazing community, which really endorses a team environment even though it is not necessarily a team sport. You always get that feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself.
If you could go back to being a full time rugby player, is there anything you would change now to what you did back then?
When it comes to training, nothing!
I'll be honest and say I don't think I was the most talented player on the field but I was the most committed. I absolutely loved playing rugby; I loved playing with my mates and putting my body on the line for them.
I left everything on the playing and training field. If you look at my stature, I'm quite small for a no. 12, so I decided while I was still a young player that I was going to be the fitter and stronger than everyone else, as well as being the player with the highest work rate.
Has rugby training changed much since you last played a professional game?
I think I am privileged to have been part of some amazing team environments with some of the best fitness coaches in the world, who were cutting edge in their own right.
Fitness is now a lot more functional and specific to the brand of rugby a team wants to play, which I think is a good thing. The most important thing is that it's constantly evolving, as rugby shouldn't have one model that caters for all eras.
The focus on defensive systems in the last couple of years has forced teams and players to develop more attacking styles and mindsets. Players are stronger and faster and we're seeing props who can scrum, handle, pass the ball, and run fast!
There is nothing better than seeing the "fatties" (a backline player's name for a tight five player) getting involved. I am looking forward to seeing more expansive, attacking brands of rugby.
Are you still involved in rugby in some form other than a player?
I am looking to get involved in coaching and consulting again. I always knew I would take a short break from rugby once I retired and crossfit has really given me solace (if I can put it that way) by providing me with a good replica of the amazing rugby community.
Lots has been said about Crossfit and Rugby training being similar, would you agree with that, and how does it help your day to day regime?
Yes, I think that the training methodology of a rugby player and a Crossfit athlete is pretty much the same: “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.”
The similarities exist because rugby is a sport that combines 2 energy systems, a whole variation of skills and good hand-eye coordination. I think the ethics of a crossfit athlete and a rugby player are the same too.
My own belief is that Olympic lifting is an important part in improving a rugby players physical ability which Crossfit obviously focuses heavily on.
Who do you admire in the rugby world now?
I will always admire The All Blacks, they are more than just a team.
I read the book "The Legacy" by James Kerr, which informed me about how their whole team culture is something to admire.
Not only have they got the best players but their team culture is second to none and I think that's been a huge factor in their success.
I hate to say it (being a South African) but I also really admire the current England team.
They have had their good and bad games in the past year and narrowly missed out on that elusive record, but with the help of Eddie Jones and some stand out performers like Jonathan Joseph, England have really upped their game. I love comeback stories, so after their RWC fiasco, it is good to see a team bounce back stronger.
What inspires you to remain so motivated in your training?
I am a competitor. I always want be competitive and win; plus I hate losing (although it is good to lose sometimes.) I want to constantly improve myself and I hope that same tenacity will cypher through the rest of my life.
If you could change anything about rugby nowadays, what would it be?
I had my time as a player and it was great. Now it is up to the next generation of players to make their mark and I am fully behind them. So, I wouldn't change a thing.