billy mcbryde interview
First of all, congratulations on winning the Grand Slam! What was the dressing room like after the game?

Thank you, it was an incredible feeling. I don’t think it’s really sunk in what we’ve achieved and how significant the tournament has been. We’ve come a long way as a team and the scenes on the pitch and in the dressing room after proved how far we’ve come. To have won it with this group of boys was extra special and there was a lot of smiles, laughs, songs after that final whistle went.

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Walk us through your preparation for the 6 nations. Tell us what you and the team were doing 2 weeks out.

The main focus was to come together better as a group, all of us knew each other and had played against one another at some stage but we had to come together as a team if we had ambition to win. The training would focus on our principles of rugby, which was our catch and pass drills, tackle technique and contact area drills. Our structure and shape was important leading up to the first game so that everyone knew their roles within the pattern we wanted to play. Reps in the gym and on the field were high so that we could go into the first game in the best physical condition.

We would review training before the next session and in the week leading up to the game we would preview the teams attack and defence and see if there were any areas we could exploit. Nutrition wise we would train in the afternoon so we would have a snack after units and weights then an evening meal after our team training. Other than that we would relax as a team, try to get to know each other better and I can honestly say that I’ve made some good friends from the tournament.

 

How did you get started with rugby?

I started at 6 years old for my local club Tumble RFC. Throughout my teens I played football, rugby and cricket with the same group of boys so it was always an interest. I started at number 8 and played there until I was 13 then moving to centre and then to 10. I guess rugby as always been a part of my life, my father was a rugby player now a coach, my grandfather was a rugby player and my uncle also.

I remember going to watch my dad as a kid at Stradey Park and wanting to play for the Scarlets and for Wales.

Coming from a passionate rugby family there was no getting away from rugby, although my parents gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted but rugby was a path that I always wanted to go down.

 

What keeps you motivated?

Good question. Always wanting to improve is something that keeps me going. Not letting my team mates, the jersey or myself down. My family, friends and anyone who’s ever helped me throughout my career.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim RohnClick To Tweet

 

You made quite an impact in the 6 Nations games. Walk us through what was running through your head before taking that winning penalty against Scotland?

I think it was the 78th minute that I came on, I started to warm up at around 55 minutes into the game as Dan Jones was struggling but he managed to carry on. I came on thinking that there was an injury not for a penalty, I ran on and saw Dan was struggling and Tom Phillips the captain hand me the responsibility.

I placed the ball on the tee and just kept thinking, routine, routine, routine and was lucky enough to see the ball go over. As you can probably tell by my reaction I had no idea what to do next and the rush of adrenaline was something I’d never experienced before.

Skip to 1 minute 57 to see the winning penalty
What’s been the biggest learning curve for you by playing in the 6 Nations?

Probably how much team work and grit can have an influence on a game and how much unity and a good team bond can help in challenging situations on the field.

 

What’s your typical gym routine?

If we had a game on the Saturday, Monday would be an upper body strength session. Tuesday a heavy lower body session. Wednesday off. Thursday a lighter lower body session and Friday an upper body pump, feel good session for the weekend. On top of that usually a conditioning session and some speed technique drills.

Monday: Upper Body Strength

Tuesday: Heavy lower Body

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Light Lower Body

Friday: Upper Body Pump

 

What’s your diet? Does it change from pre-season to in-season?

I don’t have a set diet as such but a sensible one. My day would probably consist of a breakfast at 730 then another at 10. Lunch at 1230, Snack at 3, evening meal at 6 then another snack at around 8. Protein before bed is key. Pre-season my diet would probably consist of more carbs only due to the fact our sessions are more intense and in season just a healthy balance of all food groups.

 

What’s been the most difficult match you’ve played in and why?

There have been a couple of difficult games. South Africa under 18s was very difficult, they were a strong unit big physical forwards and sharp backs so I’d probably say them. France in the Six Nations were very physical and playing against Bristol with the Scarlets XV was also a very difficult game as they had a lot of quality internationals with the likes of Matthew Morgan, Gavin Henson and Jack Lam.

 

How important do you think having a good team bond is? It’s evident that the Welsh U20s are a close knit group, how big of a factor do you think this was to your success?

I think it played a huge role in our success. We worked with Rich Neil (a performance psychologist) which highlighted the importance of unity and a strong team bond. We chose a team song which we sung after every game which was ‘Sweet Caroline’ as it was important to celebrate our victories. We all got along and all pushed each other to be the a better team which brought us closer together.

 

Everyone sees all you boys celebrating in the limelight after the Grand Slam but we all know it takes a lot of effort day in day out to warrant the success. What’s the small things you believe you do consistently which has taken you to where you are today?

We speak about not resting on our laurels, so we always try to improve our performance collectively and individually. Being disciplined away from training making sure that we recover well, sleep, hydrate and refuel. Doing our homework so looking at the opposition as well as reviewing our own performance and always knowing our role.

 

What’s your pre-match ritual? Is it something you believe in?

I don’t think I have a pre-match ritual as such but I try and have a similar routine for each game, every game is different so we approach the game with different tactics. I try and stay as relaxed as I can and stick to the game plan.

 

What’s your top 3 tips to somebody younger looking to get to the top in rugby?
  1. Do the extra’s
  2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
  3. Always want to improve and learn

 

What does the rest of 2016 look like for you?

Last 4 games of the season with Llanelli RFC, hopefully make the under 20s World Cup in Manchester. Go into pre-season with the Scarlets and have a successful season with Llanelli, and hopefully represent the Scarlets.

 

What’s your favourite quote or song you may read or listen to, to keep you focused?

I’m a big fan of quotes. I can repeat the full quote by Marianne Williamson called ‘Our Deepest Fear’ famously repeated in the film Coach Carter. That’s probably my favourite.

 

Any other tips and advice?

Enjoy it!

Follow Billy on Twitter: @BillyMcbryde

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