Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Fitness for rugby is overrated by David Clarke
August 12, 2009, 8:45 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Fitness | Tags: , ,

You are constantly facing a dilemma at training. Unless you are working with a semi-pro or fully professional team, it is unlikely you have any direct supervision over the players’ fitness training. So you have to either trust that fitness will be done outside training, or make fitness a part of your session.

Some coaches will swear by a vigorous fitness preseason, where the players spend more time running and pushing than working on skills. The hybrid coach will have more skills work. And any other coach is just a fool?

Personally, I have been through a number of regimes. There are hills on the outskirts of Bristol that I never want to see the bottom of.

However I was superfit at the start of some of the seasons, injury permitting. And yet the first couple of games were excruciatingly hard work on the lungs. My legs felt like lead and it seemed that no amount of training had been effective.

Then someone said to me that I didn’t run up hills on the pitch, or run backwards and forwards constantly for five minutes. As a winger I probably did about 20 full on sprints, made about 20 contacts and some other bits and pieces, plus some running to get into position. Easy work in comparison to the forwards of course, but their conclusions were the same

I am still saying there is value in aerobic conditioning or weights programmes. However, and this is the key, all the programmes have to be specific to the player’s position and the player in question. If you are going to be using training for some or all of your fitness, make it individual. Or put it another way. Make any unit skills session highly intentive and game related. Then the players will be replicating what happens on the pitch, skills and fitness wise.

Don’t get the players fit for rugby, get them rugby fit.

Better Rugby Coaching

1 Comment so far
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Don’t you think though that when skill is equal conditioning comes to the foorefront and becomes the defining factor? I agree with your statement on being rugby fit as general fitness is what most players in my experience still tend to develop in the gym. Sessions in the gym shouldn’t neccessarily replicate match performance, in fairness if extra muscle needs to be put on this comes down to diet and the amount of gym time available. All rugby players should strength train- conditioning and game based training are fine but strength development underpins power development and therefore individuals who perform a lot of conditioning ultimately end up well conditioned but unable to develop their top end.

Comment by Ian Mellis

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