In an ever-changing sporting landscape where methods of preparation and coaching are more advanced than ever before, there are still those coaches or managers who prefer old-school methods. In the GAA, the recently retired managerial legend Mick O'Dwyer would famously make his teams run endless laps of a field, to build their physical and mental toughness. For boxers or fighters, training and recovery might have moved on but the benefits of an early-morning run over several miles are still extolled. But former Scotland rugby international Jim Hamilton has described how the Scotland team prepared for the 2015 Rugby World Cup (which he was eventually dropped for)-and it goes beyond old school, into the territory of barbaric.
Speaking to 'The Rugby Pod', Hamilton was recounting a "toughen-up, old-school camp" which Scotland manager Vern Cotter was using to weed out any weak links ahead of the tournament. The players meet at a "five star hotel", but that is where the luxury stops and the hell begins. It starts with a Ryanair flight to Barcelona-but it gets worse.
The players get dropped off at at a random point in France after several hours of driving and are told to walk for "six or seven hours" up a mountain, wearing the clothes they had travelled in, to a "checkpoint up the mountain". According to Hamilton, he is sporting "flipflops, shorts (and a) Scotland top" while his team-mate Stuart Hogg is "wearing 'Havana' flipflops, shorts, and (has) a 'Louis Vuitton' bag".
Hamilton says that after a further "four hours" of walking up the mountain, he carrying Hogg's bag and the sixty-year-old team doctor, they get to a camp fire. And that is where the horror really commences.
There's cages, with rabbits in. Literally bunny rabbits. These army guys come in, and we're all sat round. Vern says-and he's sat there, in full outdoor hunter gear, big jumper, walking boots, he's got a knife-he's like, 'Right lads, we've got four rabbits. We're cooking this for dinner. Who doesn't want to kill the rabbits?'
So Richie Gray puts his hand up, Ross Ford, Stuart Hogg and someone else. 'Right, you four are killing the rabbits.' So this army guy pulls this bunny rabbit-it's not even a wild rabbit-(and says), 'This is how you need to kill it!'
He's swinging this rabbit around with one hand...next thing he slams it on the floor. The thing's eyes popped out of its head. He cuts its throat and he's like, 'Right, that's it. You kill it.'
So the boys had to go and kill them. Richie Gray is spinning this thing around...'Vern, I can't slam it!' Vern Cotter shouts, 'Fucking kill it!'
Needless to say, the rabbits were a bit tough.
After their paltry meal, according to Hamilton, the players were then forced to sleep outside in the freezing temperatures without sleeping bags or tents before walking back down the mountain at four the following morning.
Cotter's methods would certainly not be popular with animal rights activists-or, perhaps, human rights activists. But, some might argue, they seemed to work. Scotland reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup and were seconds away from beating Australia in the last eight before a last minute Bernard Foley penalty broke tartan hearts.
You can listen to the full episode of 'The Rugby Pod' below (Hamilton's story runs from around 1:16 until around 6:53).