Physical performance, alongside the use of the mind, is perhaps the greatest asset, tool, in which any athlete has at their disposal.
Primarily achieved through the combination of, among other things, strength training, and aerobic conditioning, people like Jack Westley, the Strength & Conditioning (S&C) Coach at Nottingham Rugby Club, has had those areas as part of his life’s work, along with sports in general, for a number of years.
Two sports, boxing and rugby, are the true loves (other than his partner) of the 29-year-old, amateur boxer-cum-rugby coach’s life, and with a smattering of international flavours running through the middle, he, in recent years, having spent four seasons on continental Europe, in France to be precise.
Boxing though, that’s been there somewhat longer than the day job, Westley beginning in saying that: “I’ve boxed most of my life really, since I was six-years-old.
“It’s because of that, I knew that I wanted to stay in sports (during university), because I love competing so much.
“That’s kind of how I got into doing what I do now; when I was university (Leeds Beckett) it was a course requirement for second and third year students to get work experience, which is how I ended up at the Doncaster Knights.”
A Rotherham lad, Westley found himself studying first, a BSc Hons Sport & Exercise Science degree (2014-17) at Leeds, before moving to Sheffield Hallam where he took the MSc Applied Sport & Exercise Science (2018), the latter of which would see him finish it off during those early months in France.
That move abroad, it arrived on the back of the experience garnered at the Knights, Westley spending the next three seasons plying his trade, honing his skills, learning the French language, and more when first he was employed as the S&C Coach at Rouen Normandie (2018-19), then as the Head of Performance at Stade Dijonnais (2019-21).
“There was, understandably, a huge difference when I moved to Rouen, from Doncaster,” continued Westley.
“I was fortunate enough that there was a good majority of people there who spoke English though.
“I’d spoken to a colleague (about the post) although I didn’t realise at the time as to where they worked; I was then interviewed down in London, and it just went from there really.
“Mind you, once I’d done the interview, I didn’t think I’d done enough and I was lucky that Rouen was more of an Academy set-up, so the time element was perhaps the biggest challenge I had.
“If any mistakes were made, then they’re easier to overcome at that level than they are at a higher, professional one.
“At Dijon however, it was the polar opposite to Rouen; full on French-speaking, more intense work, and I just had to kick on, although it was a bit stop-start because of the pandemic.
“I learnt a lot though, from being over there, and both clubs, they have really great foundations.
“I could have stayed at Rouen, if I wanted, but the chance of a fresh challenge excites me, although it was a risk, both personally, and professionally.”
Westley though, as you can no doubt fathom, he craves a challenge, both of body and mid and, following that French sojourn, soon found himself returning to British shores, in 2021, eventually being snapped up by Craig Hammond’s Nottingham.
Time though, it constantly moves on, and for Westley, returning to England, and having experienced that which he did in France, was just something which he had to do.
“As much as I enjoyed the challenge (in France), I actually came back home to nothing, no job prospects,” admitted the Nottingham coach.
“I could have plateaued, but again, I spoke to a colleague, who was the physio when I was at Doncaster, and that quickly led me to speaking with Steve Smith and Craig Hammond, and here we are.
“Initially, it was strange coming here, to Lady Bay, especially with the club being under part-time status, and, in the season before lasts’ off-season, we went through quite a lot, although that was expected.
“Now though, we hope we can continue on the upward projector we had last time around.”
Watch as Nottingham Rugby are put through their paces, and test their max power on the Watt Bike here
During the current off-season, despite changes in playing personnel, the Archers upward trajectory is continuing over at Lady Bay.
A number of players have departed Nottingham, whilst there’s also been a plethora of new arrivals ahead of the new, Championship season, one which will also see some exciting, cup action.
“Yes, although we’re in the off-season here, some of the lads are still wanting to carry things on with training programs and the like,” continued Westley.
“There’s a general, team program (for training purposes) which is sent out, and I also reach out to/keep in touch with, any new signings, as and when.
“Being here though, at Nottingham, it’s probably the best club I’ve been at and I’ll give it all I can, reap the rewards, because there’s a great project in place.
“We’re working really hard behind the scenes, and we’ll look to push higher up the table this coming season; with some good recruitment, and the support in which we have here, it’s something that can very much happen.”
As for Westley’s, in-ring activities, his being in the squared circle, donning the leather gloves and doing some left hooks, right hooks, uppercuts, maybe even an ‘Ali Shuffle,’ then boxing is something in which he aims to progress with over the coming months, and years.
“I’ve been boxing on-and-off,” concluded Westley.
“I do have my licence, and I am with a gym, so I could give it a go, however, two of the three nights in which boxing training is on, I’m working with the Archers.
“Boxing though, it’s a massive part of who I am, and I come from a boxing background as well; I boxed in several competitions at university, so I just need some consistency, get that first bout in, and see where I go from there.”
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @NottinghamRugby Jack Westley at work.