Channel: RTÉ One
Date and Time: Sunday 24 February - 9:30pm
Live Streaming: Island of Ireland

Tommy Bowe is the focus of a new documentary which gives a unique insight into what it takes to rise to the top of the modern game of professional rugby.

Bodycheck explores the science and physiology of Ireland and follows the Ulster winger as he makes his return from injury to play for his country.

Along the road to recovery, Bowe is tested through cutting edge sports science experiments to uncover what makes him the elite sportsperson he is, from grueling pre-season training to full match fitness.

And, just as he returns to elite performance, his RBS 6 Nations hopes are dashed when he suffers a serious injury.

Bowe's journey takes him back to explore his GAA roots, as well as putting himself up against a record-breaking sprinter.

All his sporting attributes are put to the test: strength; speed; endurance; mental toughness; technique; and finally, how much natural ability really lies in the family genes?


Growing up, Tommy Bowe wasn’t an obvious future rugby professional. His background was in Gaelic football – he made his debut at under-10 level for his local club, Emyvale. Bowe was 20 before his rugby career started to kick off. When he lined out for Ireland in 2004 against the USA, he was the first player from Monaghan to play for Ireland in over 80 years.

2009 saw him become not only part of the Grand Slam winning team, but also a British & Irish Lions superstar during a tour in South Africa. So how did this man from the stony grey soil become such a sporting hero? Was it inevitable that one day he would don the green shirt in Lansdowne Road?

Tommy Bowe has had countless defining moments for Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations rugby championship – that famous breakaway try against Italy, that chase back tackle against Scotland, and the two breaks against Wales in the Grand Slam match, including the try he scored.

Lighter than your average rugby player, Bowe has had to bulk-up for match fitness. He has also suffered his fair share of injuries and has had to work hard on several occasions to get his playing career back on track.

Tommy Bowe, as an elite sportsman, has a tough training regime. His training programme was specifically designed to help him reach elite standards. In particular it very much concentrates on building lower body strength and speed.

The documentary follows his regular training regime with Ulster as gets back to fitness after kidney surgery in April 2012.

Keen to discover exactly what it is that has made him the player he is now, Tommy works closely with Ulster Rugby’s Strength & Conditioning team and specialists at the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland.

Sporting ability appears to run in Bowe’s family – his sister is an international hockey player, his father was a rugby player, and his mother, a physiotherapist, regularly runs marathons. Is it something in their genes, or just the result of a lot of determination and hard work?