Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Rugby pre-season conditioning: keeping the form by David Clarke


There are too many “beach” fitness gurus around these days and not enough true sports’ fitness experts. By beach fitness I mean people who will tell you how to look great on the sand this summer but don’t know whether it will help you last 80 minutes on the rugby field.


The other week I had the pleasure of meeting someone who is at the cutting edge of fitness. Chris Jones trains Olympic triathletes and his services are in demand all around the world for high performance coaching.


As it happens, he lives about 200 metres down the road from me and so I power walked down to see him and we spent a couple of hours discussing what gives in the world of sports fitness. He has worked with some international rugby players recently and was surprised by their fitness regimes. More of that detail in a forthcoming article in Rugby Coach.


I thought I would share some of his more general ideas. I am sure that they will ring true for a number of you.


1. Fitness is about form above effort


Whether it is weights or running, every exercise should be performed correctly. That can mean reducing the load.


2. Don’t train when the player is carrying an injury


Impractical? Well, we are thinking fitness here. So, if it comes to exerting the body to improve fitness and conditioning, it is better to rest than strain.


3. Individual programmes


Having spent a summer watching countless sides train “together” in fitness terms, I don’t think some coaches have understood that some players are not built to sprint for 100 metres or lap the pitch ten times. There is limit on what we can do to work with individuals, but we can split up the team into groups who can work on position (and body shape) specific work.


2 Comments so far
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Gidday Dan – it is a valid point that players are built in a way that dictates their ability to sprint for example and indeed I am in favour of players spending pre-season taking individual responsibility for their fitness (esp under the ELVs). However there must be a minimum benchmark of fitness accross the squad. I don’t care how big a prop is – I want him to run 1km in under 6 minutes, then we can talk position specific training. What is your view?

Comment by Jack Rees

Jack, So, the 6 minute km. run gives us about a 9 minute 20 second 1500 metres – very reasonable – on the kind side. I’m guessing that you expect the players to arrive for their first session at this level – am I right?

Comment by Steve Johnson

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