T Nation

Training for Rugby


I play university rugby and the season starts in September. I want to be in my best overall shape possible for this season. However, I am playing in two different summer leagues currently. My schedule is: practice Sun, Tues, Thurs, and game on Saturday.

In the next two months I'd like to be faster, stronger and fitter I'd like to maintain my weight of 205 lbs, but increase LMM, and decrease fat mass. I can't work out Saturday or Friday. I am currently using a program for beginners from a Dave Tate article. However, what would benefit my game more now is gaining muscular endurance. I still want my overral strength to improve, but I am willing to sacrifice the speed of my max strength progress in order to increase my endurance.

Can anyone point out some good articles for me to read that outline a good program for increasing sprinting speed? And another for gaining muscle endurance. I know my goals may seem unrealistic, but I still wish to work towards them. Thank you.


Hey fellow rugger. I too play university rugby, and have found my speed increasing as well as endurance. How you ask? By changing my training and how I do it. I don't have a bunch of articles for you, but I can give you a recipe that should give you some of the success I have been finding...

1) Do hang snatches and power cleans. Do them. Once a week each. If you don't know the form, learn it.

2) Be more exploseive overall in your training. With say, a bench press, lower it slowly and explode fast as possible to the ceiling. Not all one speed. When doing sprints, focus on your
first three steps. I like 10 meter sprints jogging in between, while zigzagging across the field (that is the type of random speed you need in rugby). Also, make sure to do backpeddling
(running backward) training.

3) Eat several times a day, not Wendy's once a day. This is proven to sustain you as a lean machine. To hell with low carb and all that shit-just eat good food often.

4) Combine squats and lunges, I can feel the running power this cocktail has given me.

5) Abdominals and lower back are so important for running. Murder them when you train, or you will feel murdered on the field.
6) Last, try these sprints: sprint a quarter of the field, drop and lay down w/your head pointing the direction you are running. Wait 5-10 seconds, jump up, turn around and sprint to midfield (focusing on those first few steps of course) and repeat. You can have someone use a whistle if you like. These are pretty much hell and you may puke, but they will help you
reach your goals. P.S. Do all your running on grass with cleats on. Period.

Hope I could help, and let me know how this insanity works out for you. --JC


There is a great article on training for rugby on Dan John's website in the Get Up! archives. I can't remember which issue and don't have time just at this moment to look through and find it for you, but try asking Dan who is online in the Over 35 forum at the moment. If you don't get an answer from him let me know on this thread or send me a PM and I'll find it for you.




Thanks for the advice! I've been dong numbers 2,3,4 and 5, and definately will start doing number 6. But I have a question about number 1...I do powercleans, but am unsure of how to do hang snatches. Any tips?
Thanks again.


I don't do them, but I imagine a hang snatch is the same as a regular snatch, except for the starting point. Get a snatch grip (tee-hee) and rather than starting from the ground, stand erect. To initiate the movement, bend over slightly as you drop your hips a little and get some bend in your knees. Explode upward with your legs, pulling with your upper back and then drop under the bar. Lock out as you stand up.

I'm assuming you play somewhere other than the US. You're playing sevens over the summer right? Summer, and fall sort of, is my off-season and I am looking forward to packing on some mass. I really like sevens a lot, love all the scoring and I can usually beat at least one guy which is pretty much all that's necessary. I don't train for it though and like to see how hungover/drunk I can be at tournaments and still play! We had a tournament two weekends ago, and before the game somebody says "Who's drinking vodka?"
"Me," I said, "last night!"


I'm currently following WSSB 2 its a very useful program, especially the running stuff.
Power Cleans and Hang Snatches are great, all rugby players need power.
Sled Dragging and a strongman day is very useful see Joe De Francos article for details.


I play in Ontario, and there is a full 15s season in the summer. Thats when club rugby is at its best. BC is the only place in Canada which doesnt have a full summer club season.


Hey hey...I also play in Ontario in the summer, but in a pretty weak union. Dan Luger and Paul Pook (?) wrote a book called "Complete Conditioning for Rugby" that's been really helpful for me. It's published by Human Kinetics.

Personally, I keep to the baisc lifts (deads, bench, squats) with added dynamic lifts like the hang clean or hang snatch and explosive push jerks.


I agree, WSSB 1 or 2 will work well for you. You will have to tinker with the days and adjust the volume of the running in the program depending on how much running you are doing in your team practices.


Cool, I guess that makes sense since you guys can only venture outside in the summertime!

Our club rugby peaks in the spring, early summer. My club went to the National Championships in San Diego a couple weeks ago. Only got third, but it was a pretty fun trip nonetheless. Good luck on your season!