Strength training for rugby

Following England’s ultimately unsuccessful challenge for the William Webb Ellis trophy in Japan in this year’s World Cup, the RFU is planning to capitalise on an upsurge in the popularity of the code.

An impressive 12.8 million people tuned in to watch Eddie Jones’s men battle valiantly with the Springboks, translating to a peak audience share of 79 per cent. Sixteen years after Johnny Wilkinson scored a dramatic last-gasp drop goal against Australia, the RFU is intent on not making the same mistakes and helping to get more people involved in amateur rugby.

Whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned player looking to improve your strength, skills and conditioning, rugby training drills are a great way to boost your competitive play.

Let’s take a look at some training drill examples. If these whet your appetite, you can watch the latest rugby training drills at and other online resources.

Barbell push

When in the heat of the battle, are you able to remain cool, execute a strong hand-off and retain possession of the ball? To increase arm and chest strength, use a barbell push. Using a barbell with a weight attached on one side and a weight on the floor as an anchor, complete five sets of five reps, pushing the barbell away from you and returning it towards your chest single-handed. Ensure your legs are split, one in front of the other, and use the rear leg to support your weight.

The bench press

An oldie but a goodie, the bench press provides a great workout for the upper body, focusing on the chest, shoulder and triceps. These body parts are used in tackling, both making and escaping. The traditional bench press involves laying on a bench, taking the bar with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, and raising and lowering the bar, always under control.

Barbell squat

Great for developing explosive power in the lower body and for balance, barbell squats are useful for players involved in the scrummage. Take a barbell, resting it slightly below your shoulders with bent arms, then squat and return to a standing position while keeping a straight back.

Ensure you are working with weights that you can comfortably manage at all times, and stop if there is any undue discomfort.

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