SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — GPS helped the Australian Rugby Union team get to Notre Dame — and it has nothing to do with the Wallabies having difficulty finding the Golden Dome.
The squad from Down Under has been training on the campus in South Bend since Aug. 29 and plans to return after playing the USA Eagles at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday as they continue to prepare for the Rugby World Cup.
Strength and training coaches from Notre Dame and the Australian team plan to meet next while the Wallabies are on campus to share training information. Australian coach Michael Cheika stopped by Fighting Irish football practice on Wednesday and was impressed by how quickly coach Brian Kelly and his assistants move more than 100 players from drill to drill during a high-paced practice.
"That was very interesting for us," Cheika said. "Then the skills themselves that are involved in American football and some of the things that we can maybe do for variations in our game."
Matt Howley, an assistant strength and condition coach and director of sport science at Notre Dame, said he's looking forward to talking to the Australian training staff about training and recovering protocols and how they monitor rugby players during games and practices.
"We want to see how they manage their athletes and how we can do that better," said Howley, a native of Melbourne, Australia. "It's not about learning about how it applies to rugby, it's more about learning how it applies to athletes. We want to take the ideas and thoughts they bring to the table and integrate that to all sports."
Haydn Masters, head of physical performance for the Wallabies, said the biggest thing he believes the Australians can teach the Notre Dame coaching staff is how they use GPS.
"The way we integrate our GPS tracking of players, looking at total distances and high-intensity efforts and recovery rates and things is definitely something American sports are going to take up in a big area," he said. "I think it's going to explode here."
Masters said the Australians are hoping to learn from the Irish staff as well.
"Ice hockey is obviously a sport that requires a lot of mobility and guys to be really strong in their groins. So finding out what they're doing in those areas within that sport would help us a lot to see how we could assimilate similar things in our program."
Cheika said training at Notre Dame has been ideal because of the practice field, weight room and other facilities and because there hasn't been any distractions.
"It lends itself to training like a champion, like they say, 'Play like a champion," Cheika said, referring to Notre Dame football players' tradition of touching a "Play like a champion today" sign on their way to the field. "It's conducive to high performance."