AWARE THAT THE heat will be a factor at the World Cup in Japan, Joe Schmidt was keen to bring his Ireland squad on a warm-weather camp during their preparations this summer, meaning a group of 40 players have spent the past eight days in Portugal.
While not replicating the humidity that will be difficult in Japan, their camp under the sun has been a success for Schmidt and his coaches, with Ireland’s training base at The Campus in Quinta do Lago allowing them to get through high-quality work.
The Campus is based in the Quinta do Lago resort. Source: Rodrigo Bimering
Ireland visited Quinta do Lago earlier this year before the Six Nations and were impressed enough to return over the past eight days, before a matchday squad flew on to London this afternoon, with the unselected players returning to Ireland.
Quinta do Lago is a Denis O’Brien-owned resort in the Algarve region of Portugal, and work on The Campus facility began as recently as 2017, producing what is now a state-of-the art high-performance centre that has also hosted football clubs such as Burnley and Millwall this summer.
Brian O’Driscoll has run rugby summer camps out of The Campus and Rio Ferdinand recently led football camps there.
Ireland were at the Campus since last Wednesday, taking full advantage of what’s on offer at the training facility.
Ireland out on the pitch at The Campus. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Of most importance is the huge playing surface, a 155 x 84 metre DESSO GrassMaster hybrid pitch that is of international standard and big enough to be lined out for football, rugby or GAA, as well as leaving a ‘technical area’ for warm-ups and skills work.
With professional greenkeepers working across the Quinta do Lago resort, The Campus take some pride in the surface. Several of Ireland’s players took to the pitch with hurleys and a sliotar during down time over the past week, lending the place an even greater Irish slant.
Team rooms and the gym lead directly onto the pitch. Source: Rodrigo Bimering
Leading directly out onto the playing surface are changing rooms, treatment rooms for physios and team doctors to work with players, and the high-performance gym, which Ireland had exclusive use of when at The Campus as a squad.
The high-performance gym. Source: Rodrigo Bimering
While the high-performance gym at The Campus is not as large as Ireland are used to and has only four racks, it was well stocked for their needs during their camp. The gym doors open straight onto the pitch, allowing players to move between lifting sessions and skills work.
Another shot of the gym. Source: Rodrigo Bimering
When Ireland weren’t in the gym, it was available for other clients of The Campus to use, while there is also a general-use gym upstairs on the first floor of the high-performance building.
The Campus is also host to hot and cold plunge pools, which are excellent for aiding players’ recovery after tough training sessions, while the sauna and steam room have been used for the same purpose.