A FORMER professional rugby player put pupils at a Colwyn Bay school through their paces before the Christmas break.

Although the current COVID-19 restrictions are preventing normal fixtures from taking place at Rydal Penrhos, the school is still doing everything to ensure pupils are fit, active, healthy, and improving in a sporting environment.

Training sessions are still taking place under strict social distancing guidelines implemented by the Welsh Government and Sport Wales, in addition to specialist coaching sessions during both the curricular and extra-curricular timetable.

Rob O’Donnell, an expert in the field of rugby and strength and conditioning, spent two days at Rydal Penrhos putting various year groups through their paces and improving their skills.

He ran circuit training sessions in the sports hall, before moving on the astro-turf surface to work on specific rugby skills.

O’Donnell is a former rugby professional forward who operated on both sides of the scrum. He began his career at Waterloo before making a high-profile switch to Sale Sharks, where he made 35 appearances.

This was followed by a spell with Rotherham Titans over a two-year period, and O’Donnell also enjoyed hugely successful stints at Worcester Warriors and Yorkshire Carnegie.

He recently retired from the professional game following a fantastic 14-year career, and the popular figure has been a huge asset to Rydal Penrhos’ sporting provision since joining the school’s staff team in July 2019.