Rugby: Heinrich Brüssow


There is one name that is on the lips of everybody who supports South African rugby these days, the new Springbok fl ank sensation Heinrich Br?ssow. Modern Athlete spoke to Heinrich on how he uses running to stay fi t, fast and furious.

The muscular Br?ssow is a Cheetahs and Springbok rugby sensation. In the last couple of months, this 22-year-old former SA Schools player has turned heads with his bustling performances. He has been described as the new ‘wunderkind’ of rugby and has been praised for his fetching abilities on the rugby fi eld. Br?ssow made his test debut when South Africa played England in London on 22 November 2008. He has played four test matches and was nominated last year as Sasol’s Young Player of the Year, as well as the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year.

Rugby is a multiple sprint sport and includes physical confrontation that lasts for well over an hour. The best way to reach the level of superfitness needed for this, is through running regularly, says Br?ssow.

Weighing in at 100kg, he does not enjoy running long distances, as it has an impact on his knees. He prefers shorter distances and sprints. He realises that running speed is the key to effective performance on the rugby field, especially when it comes to outpacing the opponent to the ball. His running programme is based on a lot of speed work and on working on his ability to recover quickly between sprints.

Br?ssow follows two different running and gym programmes, depending on the time of the season. In season, Br?ssow trains nearly every morning with his teammates, doing mostly ball-orientated exercises on the rugby field. Twice a week in the afternoons, he sweats it out on the treadmill in the gym. During these sessions he does two sets of interval training consisting of ten repeats of 45 seconds of fast running with a 15 second break. He usually plays a game on a Saturday and follows it up with an easy 4km jog on a Sunday. “The running exercises in my programme have helped me gain the necessary level of speed and fitness,” Br?ssow claims.

He runs four times a week out of season. His main focus is still on maintaining speed, but he has added
some longer runs to keep his endurance and overall fitness levels up. On a Monday morning, he runs 45 minutes and in the afternoon, does a running session on the treadmill, similar to the ones he does in season. On Tuesdays, he moves his quality session to the track, following the same interval principal by running for 45 seconds, cutting back for 15 seconds and repeating this pattern six times. He rests for one minute before tackling three more sets. On Wednesdays, he does field sprints, running to certain points on the rugby fi eld. He fi nishes the week off by cycling on a stationary bike in the gym. All of this training leads back to one thing, as he puts it, “I could never play at the level that I do, if it wasn’t for my running fi tness.”

Coming back from injuries is also always diffi cult for any Modern Athlete. Br?ssow fi nds running is the best way to do it. “It gets you fit very fast.” Heinrich enjoys running, even while on holiday at the beach.
“It’s relaxing and you get to see so many places while running.” He has never done any road races, but does mention that maybe one day he will line up at a race like the Two Oceans Half Marathon.


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Role model:  Schalk Burger 
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