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Ken Owens Brings Rugby Expertise to National Triathlon Performance Centre Wales


Earlier this month, Welsh rugby legend Ken Owens visited the National Triathlon Performance Centre Wales (NTPCW) to spend a day with our coaches and athletes. Ken offered us some incredibly interesting insights into how the training, environment and challenges compared to his many years playing with the Scarlets and Wales.

The day began early at 7:30am at the Cardiff International Pool, where he observed our squad’s morning swimming session. Following this, he headed to Cardiff Metropolitan University for the running drills & gym session, finishing off by joining the coaches and practitioners for the weekly team meeting.

During his visit, Ken engaged in meaningful discussions with our coaches about the intricacies of triathlon training, as well as more transferable topics such as the importance of team culture and performance environments, specialisation and the role of senior athletes and coaches. He was particularly interested in understanding the structure and challenges of training for a sport that combines three different disciplines.

Ken reflected on the differences and similarities between training in rugby and triathlon. He highlighted that while rugby training allows for periodisation of the season, and a structure where the whole team is preparing for competitions at the same time, the triathlon training at the Centre is more individualised due to each athlete having different race schedules, educational commitments and jobs.

Despite these differences, Ken also noticed similarities. He explained, “there are similarities in the physio work and rehab, in terms of injury prevention. Rugby involves a lot of contact and triathlon doesn’t but you still have to be strong in similar areas.”

He also shared his perspective on why many rugby players take up triathlon post-retirement, commenting; “well the running is there. And we do a lot of bike in our training and some swimming as well.”

I also think it’s the challenge of it. It’s a way to still get that competitiveness, not necessarily against other people but against yourself.”

“One of the toughest things about retirement is that sense of community. And triathlon can give you that, a club to be a part of.”

Since retirement, Ken is keen to learn more about other sports including how he can offer support. While he is interested in staying connected to rugby, he envisions himself more in a governance role rather than coaching, believing his performance experience would be valuable in such a capacity.

Our Head Coach, Luke Watson, found Ken’s visit really useful, commenting “I always find it really interesting getting the perspective from athletes who have competed at the top-level in other sports, and I know quite a few of our athletes had good conversations during the day too. There are so many elements that are common across high performance environments, even where there are huge differences in the actual sports themselves, and I definitely found it fascinating to gain insights from someone of Ken’s calibre.”

We are looking forward to continuing our conversations with Ken as he joins us for future sessions.


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