Taulupe Faletau’s return to action for Bath Rugby in the Gallagher Premiership game against Sale Sharks in December followed what was a lengthy spell on the side-lines for the 72-cap Welsh international.
Faletau’s comeback marked what was the first game in the Blue, Black and White for Faletau in just over 11-months and it was a return to competition in what everyone hopes can be a successful season for him with Club and Country.
Following Taulupe’s arrival back in Bath from the pre-Rugby World Cup training camp with Wales with a shoulder injury, the work began on his recovery and rehabilitation and it was here that his journey working with the Performance Department at Bath Rugby began – one which even with only two games having been played, has seen impressive results.
A focus on ensuring that Faletau’s return to the game could not only be successful in terms of his injury rehabilitation, but so his preparation could be maximised to afford his return to a level of performance that could see him display his ability at the highest level for the rest of the 2019/20 season for Club and Country was very clear.
Faletau’s desire to train and to do everything he possibly could, allied to his passion to get back in the best possible condition, was a real highlight of the 16-weeks in training throughout his rehabilitation. The interaction between this and the work in the background by members of the Performance Department in the medical, sports science and strength and conditioning teams provided an environment within which he really could improve every day.
Faletau’s commitment to what was a challenging and progressive training programme was fuelled by his desire to attack the remainder of the season and get back to what he does best and enjoys the most, which is to play the game.
The Gallagher Premiership victory against Sale Sharks, his first game in nearly a year for the Club, came following that 16-week period of working with the club’s Performance Department. All evidence pointed towards his preparation having allowed not only the readiness to play a part in the victory, but to deliver a standout performance for his Club.
Faletau’s contribution to the game was incredible to watch, with eight carries from the 13 made in total by the back row of Bath Rugby that day. His performance in defence, making ten of the 131 tackles made by Bath against Sale in the game, added to his countless contributions around the breakdown that seemed to grow in frequency and impact as the game went on.
Glimpses of Faletau’s running and offloading game were also there for all to witness. His return to Club colours and what we were lucky to see in the 80-minutes on the field that day were all a culmination of his work across the many weeks and months of striving to return to a level of performance we all know him for.
So, to the preparation that allowed for Faletau to return in such an impactful way. His 16-weeks spent training and recovering from surgery involved a significant emphasis on his running-based conditioning to allow him to outwork his competitors, alongside a focus on speed and agility to allow him to express those game-breaking moments upon which his reputation is so strongly built.
In total, there was an impressive 229,000 metres of running accrued by Faletau across the 16 weeks, delivered via many different formats and approaches to help get maximum adaptation and the most effective preparation for him ready for his return. His countless hours in the gym, and time with the medical staff in the rehabilitation setting, all contributed to a hugely successful return to performance.
Faletau said: “In the rehab, the fitness training I got was great. The team have been fantastic throughout, especially in the last month or so when I was raring to go and get back into the game. The hard work we put in – the medical staff, strength and conditioning, sports science guys – make these returns to the game even more enjoyable.
“Being out for so long, I made a conscious effort to enjoy myself and going forward I want to make sure I enjoy every game I play. I haven’t played my best rugby here at Bath yet so I’m really looking forward to having a run of games and showing what I’ve got.”
On the day, his 7,400 metres of distance covered in the game that afternoon was more than any other of his teammates, in a hugely impressive performance where he just never stopped showing up and impacting the game. The outcome of his rehabilitation was strong, yet no doubt built mainly on the strength of character and professionalism of Faletau himself.
- 229,000 Metres run in 16-Weeks with the Performance Department.
- 8 Ball-Carries, 10 Tackles and 7,400 Metres in 80-Minutes against Sale Sharks
- One Man-of-the-Match Performance from a World-Class Player.
- And most importantly for Club and Country, a Six-Nations campaign and the 2019/20 Premiership run-in are still to come for Faletau.