The Rugby Off-Season Training Thread

Thought I might find out what some of my fellow ruggers are doing in the off-season, strength and conditioning wise.

I’ve decided to start OVT in a few weeks, after I finish my current program.

I’ve been playing touch rugby every Wednesday and Saturday, with a lot of instruction from some of the Aussies and Kiwis who play. Amazing game to help recognize lanes, shifting patterns, and for ball handling skills.

I want to start hitting the pitch pretty soon, but damn, season is a good 2 months away.

OVT is a bodybuilding program. Not your best choice for rugby. If you wanted to do OVT because you would like to add some bodyweight, try something like Insider Contrast training instead. Do a search if you are not familiar with it.

Yah I just started OVT to put on some size and strength for Rugby, when it comes closer to the season… its more than 2 months away for me, then Im gonna do more of a routine centered around the sport, explosiveness, etc.

Sounds like classic “Western Periodization” to me. Hope you don’t lose your explosiveness! Trust me, 4-8 weeks of OVT will affect these qualities negatively.

I’m just finished OVT, but modified it with two days of Olympic lifting/explosive to maintain some gains I’d made, especially in the clean and jerk. I like meltdown II personally becuase it’s focus on intense explosive lifting and the fact it makes it easy to stay lean. I play touch sevens a coupla times a week and do more aerobic work, where do y’all play at I play at SDSU for the club team.

Good point about OVT - I may have to rethink that.

I’ll check out the other program you recommended.

I play in Portland for the Reed College team, though this year I will likely be trying out for a spot on the Oregon Rugby Sports Union Team (ORSU)

Hey you american poofters!
rugby eh so you are finally coming to your senses!
I have done work with some ALl Blacks and worked with the (auckland) Blues as well as having many long term rugby player clinet at various level (snr club to NZ reps) so any questions i would be happy to help, just PM me cause i’ll proably never see this thread again cuase it sux.
2 months out from season should be into very specific training (not Touch or OVT), you will get flogged if you dont change your program now.
OVT for rugby, you’re kidding me. go check out coach davies my friend!

Whetu, you have such a delicate way of getting your point accross. Rather than kill this thread, why not start a decent one? You know I’ll be PMing you for all the goss. Was it you that suggested Howlet wear a hairband hehehehe

BTW, go the AB’s NZ 52 V Sth Africa 16.

Sorry Dad, i’ll be nice now, i promise (tail between my legs)…

Ok so the first thing you need to do is figure out how much time you can afford to invest in training. If you are a pro athlete then 3 trainings a day is fine. If how ever you are a student with a full time job and 8 kids then this might be to much.
Second thing is what are your weaknesses and what do you need to be good at in your position. If these are the same thing then you had better get training or change position.
Third thing is stop training like a bodybuilder, this is the number one fault of atheltes all over the world.
Olympic lifts should be a core component of your program as should body weight drills in your energy system work.

Whetu, sorry bro, that came accross harsher than intended.

I agree with Whetu, no BB training. The gym is good but in no way will get you ready for the knocks rugby will give you. Lately the stuff I have seen on TV has quite a bit of renegade/strongman emphasis. Hay bale carries, tire flips etc.
Also don’t forget the physical impact stuff, tackle bags etc get your bod used to taking and giving the hits.

One great gym exercise I heard of was loading a bar for squats (approx 40% max) using chain or rope attach a 35lb plate to each side (ala westside) squat and really explode up letting the wieght come in about 1/2 way up this will simulate a tackle impact.

Whetu - I don’t think you can see it, but I’m giving you the finger, which in American has very specific meaning.

I get that all the time, i will make a concerted effort to be less of a prick.

Anyway 2 months out from your first game you should be right in to specific stuff prob only 2-3 weight sessions per week.

The big problem i find is try to fit power speed and strength training all in the week, so I generally prescribe, two week blocks of each, rotating throught the season (ie for two weeks maintain speed and strength while focusing on power, then the next 2 weeks focus on speed and maintain the others etc)

As Hyphnz pointed out the use of nonconforming objects during energy system training is becoming very popular: draging, lifting, throwing various objects like sand/tackle bags, concrete, other people (as in grappling training like judo/sumo/etc).

Oh one other thing: the biggest thing you have to train in this game is mental toughness. Often this means throwing the physiology text book out the window and training the poor bastards into the ground. make sure to follow with appropriate recovery methods (pool work, massgae, yoga etc)

There are heaps of webpages with drills for speed, agilty and balls skill. these dont need to be rugby drills (we often steal drills from Rugby league and NFL)

Do some testing to find out individual and team weaknesses and aim to improve these as much as possible
3km time trials (can be done carrying stuff too)
Hang cleans
40m sprint times
GRUNT time trials
bodyweight movts
2minute efforts (shuttle runs with chest hitting the groound at turning points [try line, 22, 10, 50, far 10, far 22,far try line])

Whetu - I very much appreciate the practical advice - let me fill you in a bit more on my specific situation.

Since there is no organized “practice” to speak of other than touch, I am pretty much on my own for doing skills/endurance work in preparation for the season. It is a fairly lax environment in the United States unless you play for a major club team or really competetive university side.

That being said, I have been mixing 3 days a week of heavy training (incorporating explosive lifts into my program) with 2 sessions of touch and 1 or 2 sessions of HIIT drills, usually agility oriented (like box drills, kick and go, etc.)

Again, I appreciate your advice.


As it get closer to season drop the importance of weight training make it breif and very efficient, keep to the O-lifts and remember to incorporate unilateral & rotational movts.
with the HIIT dont over do the long distance running, change of direction and lots of hitting the ground, especially if you are a forward. You are basically hitting a ruck/maul every 10-20 seconds in open play, so that means you are getting up from the ground several hundred times in a fast flowing game.
If you are a back then a lot of max speed/over speed, acceleration, parachute bungee drills aswell as plenty of agility.
What evr position learn you lines, it could save you running an xtra couple miles a game :wink:
yeah what is your position?

Whoa, good stuff. What’s the prescription for loose forwards…we need it all!

I get too skinny during the season <100kg…oh my! And then people mistake me for a back. I hate that.

My problem is integrating EST with my OlyLifts. They hurt each other.

Where the heck do you even get a GRUNT unit. This this seems to be equipment only available to professional teams.

John T, the weight is dependant upon your height.
FYI here are the weights and height from current AB lineup
Jerry Collins 1.90m, 103kg
Rodney So’oialo 1.90m, 105kg
Reuben Thorn 1.92m, 107kg
Marty Holah 1.84m, 98kg
Richie McCaw 1.88m, 105kg

As you can see none are that heavy and you don’t want to sacrifice speed, the loosies need speed esp if playing openside. Look at what Aust have doen for this weekend, picked 2 specialist open side flankers in an effort to control the loose ball and get to play breakdowns first.
Work on acceleration over short distances, Hang cleans and snatches from a static hang, light weighted sled drags over 40 yards etc. What is EST?

DavidL, what do you mean GRUNT unit? Is that the metal cage/machine used for scrummaging? If so we have them all over here, every club has one.

Whetu - I have been hooking for the past 5 years, but this season my coach is transitioning me to to loose forward.

My endurance is the primary weakness I have right now. Must sprint more.

Hooker to loosie??? Big change and body shape differences. Stats?