Rugby is a multi directional contact sport. It involves strength and power, agility, speed and mobility. You go forward to score but are constantly running backwards then to the side then backwards again (depending on how good your team is). It requires the player to run at high and near maximal speeds and then either stop and change direction or even receive impact requiring a high amount of muscle control.
Why do body builders not make the greatest rugby players, after all these guys can lift BIG! It goes like this, our bodies have three primary planes of movement: forward, side and rotational. Throughout the course of a match a rugby player will exhaust all three planes; they have to efficient in all three planes. They will also have to lift as well a push and pull heavy objects from unstable positions. There is a huge risk of injury when attempting any of this as well as going into contact which, means that your body needs to be able to exert force through a stable base. The joints need to be protected at impact. Exercises should reciprocate these in them.
It’s tough. So what can we do.
The speed and agility training should include exercises that will developed your ability to change direction, to stop and start again. Not to mention pickup speed/off the mark.
For the resistance training we will be looking at exercises that can create power and strength using as many muscle groups as possible.
The Magic Eight
These will stretch out the hamstrings and provide strength for the lower back and glutele groups; essential for lifting and provide stability for hip joints. The boys in the boiler room will know all about this they will find this invaluable as they clear the rucks from people lying on the ball.
A power exercise that uses a huge range of muscles in top and lower extremities. Also develops core muscles which help cushion the spine against impact as well as provide essential power in the first phase of any movement. It also really works your shoulders through their whole range of movement so your passing is going to rocket. Put simply it is a must have.
Will develop power in more than one direction. This will really test both upper and lower body. In rugby the ability hold an opponent off is essential and a player will need to develop power through their hips to produce the power needed breakthrough tackles.
Multi Directional Lunges
Developing your ability push off though different directions. This will get the player to step off both feet with control and power, ideal for just about anyone who plays rugby. Why not chuck in a medicine ball and move it through different directions as you complete lunge movements. This will work upper and lower body at the same time, having a tough impact on the core, thus having the carriover of stepping off one foot and being able to pass.
Most professional athletes will be doing upmarket forms of hopscotch. Provides change of direction, power and starting speed. This is how great side steps are made.
Sprint and Back Pedal on Demand
Ability to change direction and of course works two different movements and muscle groups. This happens constantly through a game as they patterns in play change if your body can handle this then you can capitilise on the fact that your opponents mostly can’t.
Sit to Stand Up
Improves mental processing speed as well as total body agility and quickness. Rugby players are constantly having to make hits or move quickly form rucks they need to up and away.Besides you may have to make another tackle. Not to mention split second decisions.
Great for muscle control and ability to decelerate. Essential for a rugby player who might need to hit a ruck or make an important tackle to be able to balance correctly and not shoot straight past his opponent. The more you can control the ability to stop the better you get at starting.
As you can see preparation for such a dynamic sport is not done simply by jogging to the local bar; we have to really think of what happens in a game and then replicate that through our training. This article demonstrates how different movements occur in games and what can be done to improve our ability to master them. Movement mastery is an underlying theme to what any athlete has to do to condition themselves for any sport because, once you can master a movement by balance and resistance then your ability to transfer these skills onto the pitch will increase; allowing you to perform movements and bouts of strength with more control and ease. By using the drills in the article you can change the way you approach your sport and be a winner in every facet of the game.