Boxer Tom Ansell hoping fitness work done with Letchworth Rugby Club can help them fight their way to promotion
PUBLISHED: 09:50 04 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:50 04 June 2020
Tom Ansell will bring all the know-how from his professional boxing career and give it back to his own Letchworth Rugby Club after being named as strength and conditioning coach for another year at Legends Lane.
The Hitchin super-lightweight started his sporting life at the club before moving his career into the ring but still retains plenty of affection for the club.
And he sees no reason why the new-look side, under incoming head coach Baz Basra, cannot make a good stab at promotion into London One North this year.
He said: “That’s the standard we want to be at. We’ve played there for quite a few years and although it sounds a little bit strange, that standard is much harder than playing National Three level because every game is competitive.
“There are no runaway winners, the whole season is hard games, games that will make you ache until Wednesday.
“When you get up to North One the standard instantly goes up and especially if you are bringing in players from overseas like Pacific Islander boys or Kiwis or whatever.
“They are coming over to play a decent standard and that in itself will up the level of talent in the league.
“It’s tough all the time but for Letchworth to progress, we need to be there, 100 per cent.”
The 27-year-old is tasked with making sure the squad is physically prepared for all the tests to come and they have taken to his sessions with gusto, even if the dynamic shift from mate to coach is one that took a little while to bed in.
Ansell said: “They are a great set of lads. They always try hard and are always pestering me for programmes or just a little bit of fitness work.
“I work out of Elite Fitness Academy in Hitchin so I often get them down there working hard.
“Coaching them is a little bit weird as I’ve gone from being a player and part of the team to a coach.
“The transition there of going from the friendly banter to that of a stricter nature, I think that was a shock to a couple of the lads.
“On match days and in training I’m their coach but apart from that I’m their mate.”
Ansell’s boxing career may be on the verge of taking off with the promise of title fights on the horizon but having the connection with his old club does fill a void left from the switch from the oval ball to the squared circle.
“I’ve dealt with the physicality [in boxing] quite well,” he said. “When you have 20-stone men running at you on a rugby pitch as a 17-year-old it toughens you up quick.
“I do miss playing rugby though.
“Going from having a massive team around you to just a few of us, that’s what I miss the most.
“My team now is just three or four strong.”
Letchworth head coach Basra said: “Tom’s links to the club together with his knowledge and skill make him a great asset.
“If you are not fit, you will get found out at this level. With Tom on board, there will be no hiding places.”
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