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Rugby is a multi-faceted sport requiring a high degree of all-round fitness. The fitness pages of this website provide information for players who wish to improve their rugby conditioning by using the same key principles used by England’s elite players.
The fitness demands and training requirements for any player will depend on the position he plays and the level and age of the team that he plays for. Players should also coordinate any training schedules with their team coach.
The term "he" is used throughout this section to refer to players, but girls and women play rugby in increasing numbers and can also benefit from the following fitness and nutrition advice. Women and girls will however have different fitness benchmark levels to their male counterparts.
Developing your training
A player in his early teens should aim to develop a good level of general fitness. Then, as the player gets older, he should specialise in rugby-specific and later, position-specific fitness. Improvements in fitness will be aimed at improving the player’s performance on the field and also at helping the player to become more resistant to injury by reducing fatigue and strengthening the most susceptible areas of the body.
This emphasis on injury prevention will help to prevent traumatic (acute) injury and avoid longer-term (chronic) injuries that may be caused by muscle imbalance or repeated movements causing wear and tear.
For an overview of the training competencies needed to support fitness development in rugby players, please refer to the academy fitness curriculum.
Photo: RFU archive
The physical status of young rugby players who aspire to play at the elite level should be monitored from the age of 12 and throughout their careers. To do this, the RFU Elite Rugby department has developed a fitness and anthropometric scoring template (FAST) system.
This system monitors and provides feedback on the fitness and anthropometric variables specific to adolescents and young adults (anthropometry is the study of body sizes and proportions). Players who start on the performance ladder via the rugby academies will be tested regularly as defined by the RFU to monitor their physical progress.