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Rugby Conditioning


I know there are some ruggers here....I need some help....this upcoming fall i will be the acting presdient for my club(college team) and basically the team is about to fall apart, and one of the problems we've generally had is a lack of fitness. There are the select few of us that lift and eat right and actually do cardio, but the majority of our team runs off raw talent, so the first few weeks of practice, me and the other officers decided to take the control away from our coach(basically because he doesnt condition us) and we are going to do a couple weeks of nothing but conditioning to break people in. This will be a huge shock to those who havent been working out this summer, and we will definintely be making people puke. We've got a number of drills in mind, I was wondering if any of you seasoned ruggers had any suggestions or knew of any good drills that helped condition you and improve your game as well.


Utilise google.

conditioning: -




Personally, i think your looking at 2-3 hard sessions per week max. Preferably 2 and the third day to drill techniques. Ive left some examples below.



Maul and ruck work


Ive never seen an american team able to utilise or perform a propper maul. Learn it and it may help greatly.

In addition i'd take time to warm up thoroughly - step away from the quick jog around the park and do some research into warming up specific to Rugby.



What drills did you already have in mind?

www.scrum.com has pages and pages of drills you could use on their fitness page.

My favorites have always been pushing the scrum sled for the forwards followed by a sprint, and plain old pro agility drills for the backs.


Favourites for what purpose?
Scrummaging drills have a purpose but as a 'conditioning' drill pre season. No. There are far better imo.
You cant hide away from the long and short distance interval work that needs to be done.


I guess its the american football in me, but pushing things and then sprinting done in a circuit is just brutal. It always gets me into game playing condition. That and pro agilities with little to no rest in between are the two drills that get my heart beating the fastest. You are definately right about the intervals, those are key too.


There was a good article on Dan John's website for rugby conditioning.

Go to http://danjohn.org/

Go to the "Get Up!" newsletter page and get Volume 1 Issue 7. This should give you some ideas.


Excellent resource imo.


In my experience, pure fitness sessions turn a lot of people off (except the super dedicated). Unless your college is full of quality athletes with a great work ethic, hammering everyone into the ground over two weeks may be counter productive in the long run.

My advice would be to predominantly drill the basic skills; handling, tackling (limit contact to start with and keep it controlled, tackle bags are the best option in pre-season), scrummaging, rucking and mauling.

I would also say that most of the best gains would be made by focusing on body position (in contact) and individual skill.

Incoroporating a conditioning element to skills practice is also beneficial, as most players won't even realise they are working. SAQ drills tend to be fairly popular as well.

It may also be quite fun to do some strongman drills if you have any kegs etc, rugby players tend to enjoy chucking heavy stuff about.

Most teams try to get too complicated (even at the highest level) and neglect the fundamentals. The All Blacks have by far the best basic skills in world rugby and their results speak for themselves. In all, mix up the sessions and have fun.


Unfortunately conditioning work has to be done on your own if you want to be successfull. With usually only two training sessions per week, that time needs to be spent on rugby skills. Until your team realizes this, it's going to be a problem. In college you are never going to have the same level of commitment from everyone so try not to sweat it too much.


ok - rugby is a collision sport so do not get too preoccupied with aerobic
fitness a VO2 of around 55ml/min/kg will suffice (the level that top international players achive). You need good anaerobic fitness levels - these will not transfer well if you simply perfrom intervals or running drills - no matter how intense, the work needs to be specific.
Fitness sessions need to contain around 40min of work to match ball in play time - once per week, then a session of around 20min at very high intensity. (Skill sesions x 2 per week means 4 sessions on feet!!)

Suitable sessions would be games - eg 5 v 4 touch rugby - played at high speed, basketball 4 v4 etc these should run for around 5 min - if you run longer then players cannot maintain high enough work rates to improve fitness. This will have the advantage of improving skill - the number 1 factor to predict performance. These 5 min games should be interspaced with strongman circuits - tyre flips, medball throws, farmers walk, tug of war etc etc - again 5 min circiut working for eg 40 secs with 20secs to change to next circuit exercise.

Take around 2 min for water etc between game/stronman and continue to alternate for required time of session - you may want to include a shuttle run in strongman circuit.

Collision force is everything so get as strong as you can and as fast as you can!! Difficult with all the other work.

Suggested work
1 x speed and plyos and strength all together
1 x speed stand alone (low volume agility)
2 x strength
2 x anaerobic - 1 x 40min 1 x 20min
Good start point to evolve from

Mon - speed and strength together
Tue - 20min anaerobic
Wed - Upper strength
Thur - Speed
Fri - Strength - whole body lifts
Sat - 40min anaerobicSun - off

Hope it helps


Unfortunately, nothing can help the Welsh.

Breakin balls, good suggestions.


where did you cut and paste that from? Unrealistic in my opinion.


unrealistic - your opinion - but I work with rugby players on a daily basis and that is the work they do


The pattern of your sessions is ok, but a high intensity 'work' session to improve game specific fitness that also improves skill. Sounds too good to be true. Are there any strippers involved?

But seriously were talking a college level team in The USA. Now im not big on the rugby playing areas - I have seen several college teams play from the US and i personally feel they would all benefit from something that resembles a more traditional pre season and basic skill work.

Granted the guy only has 2 weeks - hence my unrealistic comment but 6 sessions are possible providing recovery allows, all can have a technique/skill aspect, preferably prior to conditioning/gpp/circuits. As you know, relearning/learning a skill is harder when fatigued and im under the impression that these guys need to drill basic skills first.

A basic session for me would look like this..

1) Warm up, joint mobility.
2) Move to more specific warm ups - eg touch rugby
3) Technique/skill emphesis, ruck, maul, takle, support play, whatever.
4) conditioning.
5) Semi contact match, perhaps with components added in to further drill the skills and techniques you just went over.
6) Cool down.

Just a suggestion.


Word to the touch rugby. My team played touch almost exclusively at our practices towards the end of our last season and it improved our ball movement in the last games dramatically. Plenty of running too.


Shows how little you really know about rugby, mate. It's not just mauls. We can't ruck worth a damn, either. Have you seen the U.S. team in Churchill Cup action this month? All 8 of their forwards go into their own bloody ruck with only 3 NZ Maoris defending and the Eagles are left with no back support. Painful to watch. :cry:

MissingLink, good thread. 4 years of collegiate rugby taught me that team conditioning is never enough to get players in shape. Not being athletic in high school, I spent hours and miles on treadmills and campus steets building up my cardio. It worked for me and it should, too, even though it's a lot of work.

It's frustrating when you know that your teammates haven't been putting the same dedication and you see them getting winded and useless after 20 or 25 minutes. I've never been a captain (although I'd love to set up a team in the high school I'm teaching someday), but I would set one session per week, "captain's practice", with half drills and half conditioning. Encourage your mates to work on conditioning on their own, or do it in pairs, like go running together before classes or something.

It might help to point out after losses that you guys lost because the other team could play 80 minutes when y'all could only last 40 and kept begging for water breaks. Emphasize the importance, because conditioning is VERY important, especially in rugby. I learned the hard way. Hope your teammates make the decision to improve their conditioning themselves. Sorry this isn't much help, but this ia American rugby, not New Zealand rugby, unfortunately.


Some points;

1) we are talking conditioning sessions not skill development - this form of work is the most specific kind of work you can do - with skill practice (espcially under fatigue) a side effect
2) only 2 weeks to train - running intervals etc are GPP - no time for this do specific work
3) It is fun - will get a greater level of participation and effort at lower levels than intervals
4) Watched NZ All Blacks doing a conditioning session last week - small sided games - no other work!!


Were reading from the same page here bud but where you seem to miss the boat is that this session is for college level US rugby players. Think about taking a step back to take a few step forwards first. Its more about getting specific for the people in mind rather than applying what works at an elite level - hence the reasoning behind my approach. There is fuck all to be gained in 2 weeks, realistically new skillsets cannot be learned sufficiently imo, let alone under fatigue conditions.


Did you take note of the session? How was it structured? Including warm up etc? How would you personally structure the session for a college level team in the US as is needed in this case? -


Skills training that takes the place of at least some parts of the fitness training over the course of the week is always more optimal. You simply won't have the time to work on fitness over the period and have good skills and tactical training at the same time. There are many, many drills that can be very physically demanding but with a big emphasis on skills. Many of the resources already linked here can be of benefit in this regard.