Posted on February 10, 2018

In preparation for the upcoming 2018 season, the French U-18 and U-20 national rugby teams have recently conducted a training camp at Aspetar, the Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, where they benefited from state-of-the-art Altitude Rooms, the first fully-integrated dormitory of its kind in the world.

Designed specifically for elite training camps, the facility allows athletes to improve endurance by stimulating the body to increase production of red blood cells, thus increasing the proportion of oxygen in the blood.

The rooms can replicate an altitude range of 500m to 5500m, enabling athletes to “live high, train low” by replicating high altitude training from sea-level. The facility also uses advanced technology that enables conditions to be monitored remotely from anywhere in the world. It houses up to 50 athletes at any one time. Commenting on their training camp at Aspetar, Antonin Berruyer, U20 French National Team Blindside flanker, said: “The infrastructure here is world class; we have the gym, cycling in the heat chambers, and swimming pools for recovery.  I do not think that I have seen anything similar in France, not this level of quality; even the training pitch is of a very high quality.

“This is very important because we cannot achieve Aspetar’s level of quality in France, especially during winter, when it is cold and our grass pitches are easily damaged. Accessing such facilities is a great advantage. “Our future objectives are to improve our performance, be better than our rival clubs, and earn selection for the Six Nations tournament with the national team. Hopefully, we can then go on to win that tournament. “At the end of the year, we all then hope to participate in the U20 World Cup in France. In front of our home crowd, we are obviously aiming to win this. I hope this training camp helps us progress towards this objective.”

Antonin’s colleague, Romain Ntamack, U20 French National Team Fly-Half, said: “I came to Aspetar to enhance my training and my physical aptitudes and it really worked. We have been welcomed very well here. These are excellent facilities and the staff are taking good care of us. The rooms are very well cleaned, the food is well served, and the staff are great. The weather is also perfect and the pitches are excellent.” Meanwhile, Sébastien Piqueronies, U20 French National Team Manager, said: “We came to Doha for a development training camp for our best under 20 Rugby XV players and under 18 Rugby 7 players. The objective is to prepare the U20s for the upcoming Six Nations and World Cup tournaments in June 2018, and the U18s for the European Championships in May 2018 and the Youth Olympic Games in South America in October.

“We select the best U18, U19, and U20 players, and bring them to this development stage here at Aspetar, where we can benefit from the wonderful infrastructure here. “During this training camp alone, we have used Aspetar’s perfectly maintained pitch and the impressive range of sports equipment to full effect, all of which has helped our players develop. The culture of excellence here has been particularly important, with state-of-the-art equipment such as the altitude rooms instilling our players with the belief that they can be the best.” “In addition, we have benefited from pristine accommodation quarters and round-the-clock medical support from Aspetar and the Aspire Zone, further contributing to the team’s improvement.”

Piqueronies continued: “We hope that each of our players finishes the training camp more capable and confident than when they began. Collectively, we will then improve both the U18 Rugby 7 and U20 Rugby XV teams’ international rankings, with our ultimate target being the podium at the World Championships and Youth Olympic Games. “Due to our tight schedule, we have only had a short time to visit Doha but we’ve been very impressed by the quality of the infrastructure and the quality of life in Qatar and Doha. Everything combined has helped us re-energise away from the freezing conditions in Europe.”

Aspetar has been collaborating with the French Rugby Federation for six years now to develop innovative new training methodologies that help to improve the team’s performance. This partnership has recently been strengthened by the signing of another Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the French National Institute of Sport (INSEP) and Aspire Zone Foundation [Aspetar’s parent organisation].