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Cutting-edge coaching underlines Red Roses' supremacy

New Zealand's World Cup triumph should not mask the true order of the women's game.

'The places we went there you won't experience in a test match'

By Luke Norman
Josh Adams (Getty Images)

More than 12 years after details of their brutal nature first emerged, Warren Gatland’s famous boot camps are still getting results.


Josh Adams did not particularly want to be taken back inside the horrors of Wales’ pre-Rugby World Cup training camps just moments after helping his side to a record-smashing 40-6 win over Australia. The winger was enjoying life far too much to force his mind back to the pain and suffering. But he could not deny the part it had played in delivering the nation one of its greatest World Cup moments.

“I truly believe, personally, that the places we went there you won’t experience in a test match because we have pushed ourselves to the limit as a squad and we’ve had to push each other through them,” Adams said after Wales’ record win over the Wallabies guaranteed their progress to the quarter-finals.

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Warren Gatland post-match briefing after win over Australia
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Warren Gatland post-match briefing after win over Australia

“We know we have been to them places and we can push teams to the limit because we have belief and confidence in our conditioning and how fit we are and them camps have certainly put us in good stead.”

The camps, held in Turkey and Switzerland in June, are nothing new. As far back as 2011 details emerged of the spartan, one-star conditions in rural Poland, where a shocked group of players led by Sam Warburton, were first introduced to cryotherapy – the ice chambers in which temperatures plunge to -160 Celsius.

But familiarity has not bred contempt.

Wales players fight for the ball in Lyon – PA

“They are dark. They’re very, very dark,” Adams said, the grin failing to conceal the all too fresh memories.


“They are disgusting mate. Turkey, 40-plus, that’s like a heat stress camp. And then in Switzerland we went to an altitude camp, we were up there much longer. We lived at 2300m and then we trained at 1500m. It’s still very high (but) we came down to train so we didn’t lose the intensity of our training. We were actually pushing harder.

“Switzerland was a very, very tough 18 days.”

All this after the players had already been through a series of ‘SAS-style’ ordeals back in Wales, including being doused with water after having hoods put over their heads and being challenged to swim down to depths of 15m while physically exhausted.

The players’ commitment to completing such tasks and trusting in the methods behind them was picked out by Gatland himself in the aftermath of Sunday’s win.


“The message from me beforehand was ‘you get what you deserve in life’ from putting that hard work and effort in,” said the New Zealander who led to Wales to the final four at both the World Cups in 2011 and 2019.


“We’ve been through some pain and tough times. We’ve pushed some players right to the edge and they’ve fronted up.”

Adams is certainly onboard, revealing the first thing the squad had planned on returning to their hotel after scoring more points against Australia than any other Welsh side in history:

“Some players, I say some players but really all players, don’t want to get in an ice bath but it’s compulsory and it’s something we drive now. We’ll be straight back (to the hotel)and we’ll all be hopping in straight away.”


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