Rugby fitness Q&A

Need to know some quick rugby fitness facts to beef up your knowledge during the half-time chat? Moneque Roos, a biokineticist at Virgin Active does a quick Q & A for us.

What are the most obvious differences between rugby forward and rugby back?

Rugby is a high impact/contact sport where 15 players of both teams compete for the ball from set phase play (scrums, line outs, kick offs) and open phase play (rucks, mauls, counter attacks). The forwards are involved in scrums and line outs and therefore you would find strong men in the front row for scrumming purposes.

The taller men on the team would be placed in the second row for line outs and kick offs. Their faster and more agile counterparts will make up the backline. Shapes and sizes of players will therefore vary depending on the responsibility of their position. 

Are there different types of training for different players?

Every rugby player will always want to be bigger, stronger and faster. So therefore strength, speed and fitness will apply to all players. The forwards want to be stronger and bigger therefore they will focus on strength and power.

Their training would entail some heavy lifting and explosive work. As for the backline, their focus is speed and agility which means sprints and multi direction movement will be incorporated in their training.   

How important is speed?

The faster you are the quicker you can get to the ball or out run your opponent. You will compete more effectively for the ball which leads to more ball possession for your team and could ultimately decide the outcome of the match.    

 What are common gym exercises for rugby players?

Rugby is a multi dimensional sport which means that you need to incorporate all the different principles of fitness.  A professional rugby player will always focus on strength, explosive power and multi joint exercises.

Examples of strength exercises include bench presses, push ups and pull ups for upper body and lunges and squats for the lower body. Explosive power exercises can involve the whole body for example dead lifts and barbell lifting, which is often referred to as clean and press, and hang cleans.  

 What are the most common injuries associated with each position?

The most common injuries are anterior cruciate ligaments injuries of the knee, hamstring strains, ankle sprains and shoulder dislocation injuries. The forwards are more prone to knee and shoulder injuries while the backs are more prone to tear a hamstring or sprain their ankle. If the players are well conditioned the rate of injuries will decrease.

Source: Moneque Roos, Biokineticist Virgin Active South Africa. Visit Virgin Active here.

(Health24, September 2011)


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