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Rugby Training: Where to Begin?


I am a powerlifter who is interested in joining my colleges rugby team. However I have no idea where to start, as far as getting prepared for rugby.

I have been training for a year and half, and have been competing in powerlifting for half a year. Previously i had not competed in sports (besides little league baseball). I would still like to prioritize powerlifting over rugby.

Can anyone point me to good resources as far as strength training, conditioning, skill etc. for rugby?

Age: 18
Height: 5'4"
Weight: 165-170
Squat: 405
Bench: 225



Strength is without a doubt a great advantage in rugby. The stronger you are, the more useful you'll be in rucking, mauling, tackling, scrums, and lifting in the line outs.

However, the main thing you should be working on is your endurance and speed. 70 minutes of running is no joke, and it takes a great deal of stamina. It doesn't matter how strong you are if you can't catch the guy with the ball.

I'd suggest you do a lot of HIIT, simply because it closely mimics the type of running you'll be doing in game situations. During the match, you will go through a continuous cycle of jogging, sprinting, and hitting--but never walking.

So to answer your original question, continue lifting, but supplement it with as much cardio as you can handle. Also, emphasize lifts such as cleans, squats and deadlifts.

Hope that helps.
(This is all assuming that you will be a forward, and not a back.)


At that weight you ll do well to play in the pack. Id advise starting in the backs and learning some basic ball skills like passing, catching and running lines.


Get plenty of passing practice and some interval work. Simply learning the game will help a lot as well, as you don't have to work as hard once you figure out what the hell is going on and where you're supposed to be.

And avoid playing in the front row. That's a learning curve you don't want to have to deal with!


I guess I should say again; learn the game thoroughly before you look at spending most of your time in strength and conditioning. It pays off.


IRB has some vids on YouTube that are worth watching.


I agree with 2nd poster. Unlike football where on average a play lasts a few seconds, rugby requires you to move constantly. You have to be explosive and have endurance. (This is not taking anything away from football.)

You need to ask yourself two questions,

1) How good is my current cardio level?
2) What comes first rugby or powerlifting?

Personally i tried to do both, and i found it difficult. So i cut powerlifting. So that i was lifting twice a week, practising twice a week with a day for additional cardio. Even this started to really take its toll when you start playing as well. The hardest part for me was reducing the lifting in the gym.

For cardio i did a mixture of:
Interval training
Sledge pushing
Simple jogging (I know jogging gets a bad rap, but i just like including it once in awhile.)

You also need to take into context the drinking culture in rugby too, its pretty sick.


Dont forget neck exercises.Work on your skills and tackling.


This seemed to work well:


I few things I noticed when I played in University (and high school for learning the game):

  1. You actually rest/walk more in the backs, than the pack.

  2. I found playing in the pack (hooker specifically) easier to learn than the backs...simply because I just stayed with the pack rather than learning plays/position.

  3. For me, training legs the day after a game was the best option. It took a few weeks getting used to, but with a practice schedule of Tuesday, Thursday and Friday then a game on Saturday, a Sunday leg day gave me the most recovery time.

  4. It's fucking fun! the easiest way to learn the game is get the basics down in practice then learn on the fly.



I just realized point 1. today, after 2 years of playing. I always just assumed that the pack got more rest because only 2 or 3 of us ruck at once.

I discussed this with my friend who's a back and he made me realize that while 2 or 3 forwards ruck, the entire core of backs gets to rest. Same during the scrum. Funny how I never noticed that before and came across it twice today haha.


Tell me about it. I realized it once during a game when I moved into the centres from the pack at half time. I remember thinking, "Damn, these guys stand around a lot!"


This is awesome. I'm thinking of doing some rugby this summer. Just for something new and I heard it's a lot of fun, so I gotta try it out.
I can't wait :slight_smile:


At 5'4 you'll be a hooker if you're playing in the pack I would think. Fairly easy position for a new person to learn as well. You'll probably be in charge of throwing in the line outs which is another little challenge for you.


start practicing drinking huge volumes of beer very quickly and training with a hangover, the rest will just fall into place.

enjoy. awsome game!


LOL. Don't forget practice nude bowling. At your proportions it will be a challenge. But, if you learn enough rugby songs, no one will give you crap.

Stay away from the backs, unless you want to learn how to be lazy!


Thanks for the help, does anyone know of any good resources for increasing speed?


Heavy squats and cleans. Also, sleds, parachutes, etc.


I can't think of any off hand, but in general if you work on mobility/flexibility it would be a good start (search articles mainly E. Cressey and M. Robertson) .

But mostly, get out there and do some interval sprints. Focus on hitting top speed quickly and for short distances.


wow... your stats are pretty impressive, and only at 18.

for your speed and conditioning i would do the following:

  • fartlek (funny name, basically intervals) simply jog/ sprint the length/ width (or width/ length) of the field for time.
  • hill sprints (20 - 40 metres)
  • hill acceleration runs, start slow and accelerate up the hill, can be quite challengning to gain pace
  • piggy backs, use someone of similar weight
  • piggy backs up hills
  • 10m, 20m, 40m, 100m sprints (standing start & running start) and shuttles practice both forward & backward running

the more guys you train with the more fun you'll have in training

  • finish with touch footy/ two hand tag practice games

other then that technique, both tackling & ball skills.

oh and start getting use to taking some hits, the first few games should leave you sore for days.

other then that find out who the coach is, they should have some sort of training program ready to go.