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Power In Rugby

England's George Chuter lifts weights in a gym training session

Photo: Getty Images

Power specifically describes the ability to exert force quickly. In physics, power is the rate at which work is performed or energy is transmitted, and exactly the same definition fits when describing power in a sporting context. Power and strength are often used synonymously, and "big and powerful" is a commonly misused phrase to describe elite rugby players. This is because the term "power" describes the rate at which a force is exerted and not just the magnitude of the force, so relatively small players can still be hugely powerful.

As such, rugby is largely a power sport. Many activities involve the player quickly moving his own body weight forward, laterally and vertically, or moving the weight of an opponent quickly, meaning that power is a key determinant of success in rugby at the highest level.

Training power

Olympic weightlifting is the ultimate power sport, wherein heavy weights are moved from the ground to overhead in a very fast movement, or combination of movements (the following document provides a list of weight-lifting clubs in the UK (PDF 100 Kb)). Paradoxically (and confusingly), the sport of power lifting is actually a measure of strength, since success in competition comes solely from completing the lift, and does not depend on how fast the lift is made.

Some athletes are innately powerful as a result of their genetic make up, which naturally produces a lot of fast-twitch muscle fibres. Others have to train hard to develop power, usually by improving strength first and then re-educating their muscles and neural system to perform movements at high speeds.  Plyometric training is a good example of training that can have this affect on a player.

 

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