How to Condition for Rugby

Rugby is an amazing sport requiring a variety of knowledge, skill, and conditioning. This is a general overview of how to start preparing for the "heathen sport played by gentlemen".


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    Research everything you can about the position you wish to play. Most positions have specific body types that fit them.
    • For example, if you're tall and wide you'll play a second row, short and stocky you'll be a prop, small and fast you'd play a back position. Figure out what you'd be playing and tailor your conditioning to that position.
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    Run sprints and intervals! This is one of the best things you can do - no matter what your place on the field. The thing that distinguishes Rugby from American football is everyone goes non-stop, almost like soccer (but worse because everyone except the full back is moving with the ball all the time). Even if you're a prop or a second row you'll still need to be running so you can make tackles. Running is probably the single best way to improve your game. Jogging, however, won't cut it.
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    Do up/downs. What are up downs you say? They're like squat thrusts. They are useful because you are constantly getting hit in Rugby, or hitting someone else, and you need to get up quickly. You'll also need to dive on the ball, tackle, and generally haul your weight around. Make sure you're pushing yourself beyond the point where you think you can't do any more; by the end of a game you are so tired you can't move your little finger, but you have to keep going. Up/downs show you how conditioned you really are.There are 2 ways to approach up/downs:
    • As a team: Everyone lines up on the field (I prefer to do them in an exploded scrum formation) and the coach blows the whistle. On the sound the team gets onto the ground as fast as they can - face down. On the next blast everyone gets up as fast as they can. Repeat. This should start out slow, giving time to get up and down, and increase in intensity until it is constant.
    • Do it solo/in a small group: just get you your butt up and down as fast as you can and as long as you can.
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    Start lifting weights. Go to the gym and get someone on your team to show you a lifting routine and then make yourself do it. Pack players should be looking to increase muscle mass, while backs should be looking to increase tone. Tailor your routine accordingly. Be sure to have someone spot for you while lifting weights. The best lifts to perform are front squats, overhead squats, and power cleans. Rugby is a lot of core and explosive hip power.


  • Train with a friend and teammate - it'll make you work harder and your workout more fun.
  • Get good running shoes. Your rugby boots are not made for training in and it will make all the difference in the world.
  • Make yourself a rugby workout playlist - it'll keep you pepped and focused.
  • Always wear thick socks so you don't get sore feet.


  • Start slow - you don't want to hurt yourself by blasting out to hard and burning yourself out.
  • Something important you need to know about Rugby - everyone thinks that it's so is only dangerous when someone on the field doesn't know what they're doing - and most of the time that person ends up hurting someone else. Make sure you are trained in the RIGHT way to tackle, scrum, ruck, and lift. If you don't know, tell your ref so they can help you. Remember, you only want to cream the other team on the field, you don't want to maim them for life and send them home in an ambulance...or a hearse!
  • Make sure you check form for lifting and running. You can hurt yourself if you don't do it right.
  • Never ever, receive a hospital pass (i.e. a pass over your chest) from your teammates.As this will give your opponents all the space in the world to tackle you.

Things You'll Need

  • Rugby boots
  • Mouth guard (a must for any drills with teammates)
  • Running shoes
  • Whistle (optional)
  • Clothes

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Rugby