Rugby Boys Give the Feminine Touch a Try; England's Dan Luger on How 'Girlie' Yoga Got Him Back on the Field after Injury

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Byline: PETA BEE

IN the macho world of rugby, yoga is regarded as "girlie" - few would dare to admit it helps them survive a scrum or speed down the wing. But for Dan Luger, right, it saved his career after a horrific knee injury.

The calm atmosphere of a yoga class is not where you would expect a sixfoot, 141/2-stone England rugby international to feel at home. But when Luger, who is England's third highest try-scorer, is not charging down the field, pulverising his opponents for England or his London club Harlequins, he can be found practising his downwards dog in Chiswick.

It is the holistic approach to training, of which yoga is just one aspect, says 27-year-old Luger, that is the reason he has been able to recover so quickly from the injury that almost forced him to retire.

"In April I tore the cruciate ligament in my knee and had to have an operation which involved screwing the tendon back into place," he says.

"I have been using yoga for a couple of years to help me rehabilitate from various injuries and think it has definite benefits. I also take supplements, such as glucosamine, when I am injured as it is said to improve flexibility in the joints, along with echinacea and a multivitamin for all-round support."

As with England cricketer Simon Jones who last week quit the Ashes tour with the same injury, the most optimistic prognosis for Luger's recovery was nine months, but thanks to yoga at least three times a week, a high-protein diet and plenty of essential fatty acids in the form of olive and fish oils, he is back on the rugby field after just six months.

"I get ribbed at training quite a lot," he says. "They think it's just for what they call 'Lycra-lovelies', but I know better." Although a couple of Luger's rugby-playing colleagues, including Will Greenwood, are convinced by yoga's powers at improving core strength, flexibility and posture, such views are rare in the macho world of sport where heaving and sweating in a gym and a run around the touchline are considered more beneficial than a gentle stretching programme. …