Throughout his decade-spanning career, Alex Tait has represented Premiership rugby team Newcastle Falcons. With a clear focus on constantly improving his own performance, he’s watched as the game itself has developed to demand more and more from its players. So rest and recovery time is vital, and to help him get the most out of it Alex purchased a high quality mattress from Mammoth.
We caught up with Alex to chat all about the importance of recovery, and hear how he’s been getting on. From playing against New Zealand wizard Carlos Spencer to achieving a degree in Chemistry, it’s a wonder he’s had any time to rest at all.
Alex began playing rugby at just 6 years old, in his home village of Wolsington in the North East of England. At 10, he secured a place at Barnard Castle School: a large-scale rugby school with a fantastic reputation for producing players who play at the highest level.
While attending Barnard, Alex was scouted for Newcastle Falcons Academy and England U18s, managing to achieve a contract straight from school. He has now been at Newcastle for 10 years.
So what do Alex’s teammates make of him?
“As a player, I’d like to think that my teammates would describe me as honest and working, and someone that they are happy to take to the field with.”
And off the field?
“I am a lot less serious.”
Alex says that if he hadn’t been offered a professional rugby contract, he may have gone into the medical field, saying that he “always wanted to be a surgeon as a kid.” And in the summer of 2016, Alex graduated from Newcastle University with a 2:1 Bachelors degree in Chemistry.
“Due to rugby commitments it’s taken me 6 years to complete, but I’d have to rank it up there among my proudest achievements.”
Alex says that he is also proud to have played alongside and against so many talented players during his time with the Falcons, but says some experiences have been more enjoyable than others.
“I particularly remember playing against Carlos Spencer years ago and it was an absolute nightmare to defend as a fullback. He would look one way and kick the other.”
So let’s talk training and recovery…
“A typical day will have a morning gym session, team meeting and on-field training in the afternoon. Added to this are prehabilitation, recovery and rehabilitation sessions to ensure we are at our best to train.”
Alex describes an intense training regime which varies on a daily basis, including 4 or 5 days a week of training with a mid-week day off for recovery. As the years progress, training methods continue to develop, with an increasing amount of focus being placed on the little details which can improve performance and keep players healthy.
“I myself have suffered a fair few injuries during my playing career but, fortunately, none of them now cause me issues on a day-to-day basis.
“In fact, the only recurring problem I have tends to be lower back issues — which is why I was so keen to invest in a Mammoth mattress.”
Alex describes paying attention to rest and recovery as “absolutely vital” to success, saying that “it not only helps players to stay at their peak; it also helps to prevent injuries from occurring.”
It also helps Alex perform at his best on the field, which he says is crucial for succeeding in the “competitive” Premiership.
“As I’ve got older I have definitely invested more time into my recovery, both at training and at home. I usually aim for at least 8 hours sleep a night and if I fall short of that I will feel sluggish and probably a bit irritable. That’s not an ideal for training or playing so I typically make sure that I get a good night’s sleep to set me up nicely for the day ahead.”
When he is playing away or enjoying a holiday, Alex says he always has to make sure the bed he is sleeping in is just right, especially the pillows. Otherwise, he can experience neck pain. He describes himself as a “pretty deep sleeper” despite having been told that he rolls around a lot throughout the night.
So what is his best advice for falling asleep quickly?
“I never watch anything on my laptop or phone when I’m in bed. After I brush my teeth I will read a book until my eyes are dropping, then I switch off the lamp and I’m pretty much asleep.”
As a Glasgow Rangers supporter, Alex says that if he could have a late night chat with anyone, then former manager Walter Smith would be worth losing sleep.
“He led them to 9 titles in a row and I would love to hear the stories about some of the characters in the team over the years.”
And of course, Alex also relies on his Mammoth for a good night’s sleep.
Alex says that he was recommended to Mammoth by some of the other players he knows who had already invested in the brand. He then took some time to find out more information through the Rugby Players Association (RPA) website. One of his fellow Newcastle players, Rob Hawkins, was particularly enthusiastic about Mammoth and highly recommended it when Alex was looking for a mattress which would help with his lower back pain.
“I went down to the nearest stockist in Newcastle, tried it out and thought it was fantastic, so I bought it then and there.”
Alex says that he “used to wake up with bad back in the morning and I’d often get too hot with my old mattress.” But his new mattress “seems to have solved these problems.”