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Rugby Physical Preparation

We saw it in our file: physical preparation is a must for team sports . Rugby is no exception to this rule. Frédéric Renotte , professor in exercise physiology at the Haute École Condorcet and doctoral student at the University in sports psychology in Mons (Belgium), explains why and details the particularities of good physical preparation for rugby players.

The particularities of the physical preparation of rugby players

From a physical point of view, rugby is a somewhat atypical sport when compared to other team disciplines. Firstly because there are more downtimes there . But also because it is a sport where big guys are particularly appreciated, even at the highest level.

“Whatever the level, among young people or in the World Cup, there are always 4 or 5 physical monsters per team. Players who sometimes weigh 120-130 kilos, a clever mix of fat and muscle, explains Frédéric Renotte. They are the pillars of this sport, boys on whom, as their name suggests, their teammates can rely. These guys, or these “fat people”, we must offer them differentiated training because we cannot make them lose too many kilos. They need it to excel in their field. You must also be careful to strengthen their muscular chain, their shoulders in particular, because the contacts are numerous and sometimes violent, always above the belt. »

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Rugby: the physical trainer’s puzzle

To do this, it is essential to work on the core , but also to take care of falls , as in judo. Every year, too many rugby players find themselves quadriplegic: we must therefore try to put in place a whole arsenal of defense procedures in order to avoid this type of incident.

For a physical trainer, a real headache begins. Between a heavy pillar that we must if possible try to make... not too slow, and a winger who must be lively and agile, it is important to intelligently dose the preparatory efforts , while trying to preserve this spirit of team particularly important in the values ​​of the oval.

“The weight of the pillar is an asset that it must take advantage of”

“Indeed, that is the difficulty of this physically demanding sport but where the values ​​of mutual assistance and respect for others are undoubtedly even more essential than elsewhere. Like everywhere, you first have to work on the background for two weeks, but with big disparities depending on the positions . The specificity of the wingers' position has nothing to do with that of the pillars. It's totally different. The pillar is much less mobile , so it has a static force. He must also have substance, of course, but at his level. His weight is a physical quality , it must be an asset that he must take advantage of. No point trying to make him lose twenty kilos, that would weaken him in his specific role. Secondly, you have to make him work on power and strength. This is why we sometimes see the substitutes cycling instead of running along the pitch like a footballer. The power equation is simple: it's force times speed. The pillar lives up to its name. He is the pillar of the team, like in basketball. He must therefore work on both static force and moving force . We're not going to ask him to sprint. You have to work on speed, but you have to know that it is a natural physical quality. If you're slow to begin with, you'll die slow. If you are born fast, you will die fast. »

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Work on speed with intervals

How can we effectively work on power, which is important in duels, contacts and scrums?

“There are many ways to achieve this,” continues Frédéric Renotte. By pulling and pushing tires for example, but also using machines that have been specially created for this sport. Working in sand corridors, where the support is less good, or with weights and dumbbells can also be interesting from this perspective. »

To work on these aspects with precision, you have to know how many watts you are pushing, try to improve this data by also strengthening the base on the ground.

For frailer and faster players, we will emphasize interval work . Because we are generally talking about players who make the difference through their running speed, their acceleration, their changes of direction on the move, their ability to destabilize opposing defenders.

Finally, physical preparation in rugby must also provide specific muscular work for players called upon to play regularly on foot . We are thinking in particular of the fly-halves, the backs, and especially the players responsible for taking penalties and converting tries.

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Increase in work performed, simple and repetitive exercises and muscular adaptation during exercise