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Fitness Attributes for Rugby Union

Sean Lamont (R) of Northampton jumps for the ball against Wasps' Mark van Gisbergen

Photo: Getty Images

As well as having all the skills, these days rugby players have to be:

  • Powerful - to compete for the ball at the breakdown and burst through tackles
  • Strong - to maul for the ball or generate a scrummage drive
  • Quick - in attack and defence
  • Agile - to dodge and dart through gaps in the opposition’s defence
  • Physically fit - to play at a high intensity for 80 minutes

To make the most of a player's natural abilities, getting really fit for rugby has to start young - around 11 or 12 years old. At that age the emphasis is on having fun through general physical activity. As a player gets older though, he needs to develop specific fitness for rugby, particularly if he aspires to be a professional player.

Combining fitness attributes

One of the challenges for rugby players is to develop over time all the necessary fitness attributes to play the game successfully, when some of the fitness attributes are not complimentary to each other. It is no coincidence that shot-putters don’t make good middle distance runners and vice-versa, but a successful rugby player has to mix aspects of both.

That's what this section of the website is all about; it describes in more detail the fitness attributes referred to in the list above and gives some guidance for coaches and players to help them in their quest for exceptional rugby fitness.


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