Surabhi Date

Surabhi Date

Strength and Conditioning Programme Lead, Indian Rugby Football Union, Pune, India
Postgraduate Diploma in Sport and Exercise

Giving back to your nation feels good, says Surabhi Date who came to AUT as an international student from India and is currently the strength and conditioning programme lead for the Indian Rugby Football Union.

“I’m happy to have contributed to more than 50 international medal wins for my country in the past eight years, including medals at the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, and World and Asian Championships in various sports.

“I’m responsible for driving the physical development of all the national rugby squads – senior men, senior women, U20 men, U18 men and U18 women; a total of approximately 80 national team members. My work involves two aspects I’m extremely passionate about – rugby, and strength and conditioning. Although it can be a very hectic job, my work doesn’t feel like work.”

A former athlete herself, she is particularly proud of being able to hold the torch for India women’s rugby.

“I was happy to be part of the first ever Indian women’s rugby team that was formed back in 2009. I was happy to play some good international rugby and lead the team for three years before moving to New Zealand. Women’s rugby is growing in India now and it gives me immense pleasure to see the team having their own coach, physiotherapist and other support staff. We have gone semi-professional now, which was something I never imagined when I was playing.”

Fond memories of New Zealand
Surabhi says her postgraduate studies at AUT helped to turn her into the coach she is today.

“AUT’s approach turned me into a critically thinking coach, as opposed to being just a blind follower. It upskilled the coach and the learner in me; making me independent to learn what I want, where I want. I had never been taught so well before. AUT targeted all kinds of learners – whether you’re a reader, a listener, an observer or a doer, AUT has you covered. I’m seeing students here in India learning the same content I learned back at AUT back in 2015. It basically put me eight years ahead of everyone.

“Everything I was learning at AUT was very novel and detailed. Constraints-led coaching for skill acquisition in sport, the practical implementation of force platforms, 3D gait analysis, experimenting with heat acclimation, salivary lactate analysis and measuring muscle pennation angles – it was exceedingly fascinating. I had never thought I’d be learning all this and with so much profundity.”

Her time in New Zealand also opened the door to a few opportunities she still fondly remembers today.

“My golden opportunity was a strength and conditioning internship at Auckland Rugby. Brad Anderson, Jeremy Giles, Paul Downes and Scott Crawford happily took me under their wings and patiently helped me in my journey towards becoming one of them. This internship had a catapult effect on my career. I also used to daydream about playing rugby in New Zealand, after watching the New Zealand women’s team on TV. So playing rugby with all these women I grew up watching on TV, playing rugby with the world’s GOATs, was another huge achievement in my career.”

Advice for other students
Surabhi, who graduated in 2016 and will be heading back to AUT later this year to take on a PhD, has some great advice for other students.

“Studying at AUT will show you a pathway to excellence. What you’ll be provided with during your studies at AUT will no doubt be life-changing, provided you put in the effort. It’s definitely hard work but nothing else will give the rewards it gives you.”

She considers her own studies at AUT as extremely pivotal to her successful career.

“Honestly, my biggest achievement and milestone was heading to New Zealand, and studying strength and conditioning and rugby in the world’s mecca of sport science and rugby. The amount of growth and the opportunities my stint in New Zealand led to were phenomenal. I was a completely different person after graduation. AUT gave me such robust tools to navigate not just as a strength and conditioning coach, but also as a lifelong learner.”