This page is for current and prospective players, to provide guidance on how you can prepare yourselves for the sport, and how you can take steps on your own to improve.
Preparing for Rugby - Body AND Mind
Rugby is a very demanding sport, physically AND mentally. The stronger and fitter your are, the better you take care of your body, and the sharper your mind is, the better you will perform. Below are some general guidelines and things to consider. This online article provides really great rugby-specific guidance around workouts and nutrition: https://webber-nutrition.co.uk/rugby-players-diet-plan/
But each of us have different bodies with different needs, so feel free to should create a workout/nutrition regimen that works for YOU. If you have any questions, feel free to ask the coaches.
As a contact sport, having more muscle mass certainly helps. That said, strength should NOT come at the expense of fitness - being jacked doesn't matter if you're not in the play. To be "rugby strong," you'll want to pay special attention to the muscles you'll need to USE - such as your legs and your core - not just working out the "show" muscles like pecs and biceps. Also, it's not just about lifting weights - you should incorporate speed and explosiveness/acceleration exercises into your workouts.
Fitness is CRITICAL in rugby. In 15s, matches are 80 minutes long. In 7s, matches are 14 minutes but at a much higher intensity and with 3-4 matches per day, Regardless, there is minimal rest, and limited substitutions - once players are subbed out, they're DONE, so the majority of players must play the ENTIRE match. Rugby fitness is unique, as players are quickly cycling back and forth between aerobic and anaerobic activities of varying intensities - shuffling, running, tackling, jogging, sprinting, wrestling, lifting, pushing, and more. A combination of traditional cardio training and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is recommended.
Nutrition & Hydration
Nutrition and hydration are often-overlooked, but are both very important to ensure your body is operating at its peak performance level. Many athletes focus on proteins and complex carbs, which are fine - but what often gets ignored or minimized is the need for a variety of fruits & vegetables, which provide the vitamins and minerals which help your body operate at peak performance.
Yes, you can work out too much. Your muscles need off days to repair and GROW. And make sure to get enough sleep! Sleep is when your body (including your BRAIN) rests, recovers, and repairs itself. Poor sleep quality has been shown to decrease motivation, to negatively impact workout recovery, to increase your chances of injury, to increase your chances of getting sick, and to impair cognitive function and mood. These are all things we want to avoid, not just for rugby, but for life in general (including school)! Do your best to get a full 8 hours each night.
Taking care of your mental and emotional well-being is also important to your overall health. We all face different types of stresses and pressures, and in varying amounts, related to things such as school, money, family, and more. Rugby is a physically demanding sport involving a lot of contact - being in the wrong mindset is potentially risky not only to other players, but also to yourself.
While rugby is a competitive sport, it is also supposed to be FUN, and if approached properly, can be a great outlet for stress. That said - if you are ever having struggles with mental or emotional health, know that you're NOT ALONE. The coaching staff is here for you and will do anything we can to help.
Increasing Your Rugby IQ
How each of you can improve your rugby skills and knowledge will depend on your current level/experience and your aptitude/preferences for learning. You can learn enough to play a game of rugby within a month or so, but know that it takes most people many years to master the sport. So, if you’re new, try not to get overwhelmed or discouraged! Start slow and have fun - hopefully you’ll find rugby enjoyable enough that you’ll WANT to keep learning and improving.
If you're NEW to rugby - first, WELCOME! For beginners, we recommend getting familiar with the basic rules and terminology first - this will help give you a good foundation to learning the game and avoiding confusion later. For the fall 15s season, this Introduction to Rugby Union video will be a good place to start. For the spring 7s season, this short video provides a good introduction to this rugby variation.
Other than playing rugby, watching rugby is one of the most effective ways to learn about the sport. Using all of the online resources at our disposal today, you can watch rugby at many levels, including international rugby (the most elite), American collegiate rugby, and everything in between. Things to pay attention to as you watch rugby matches:
The flow of the game
The structure and patterns, on both offense and defense, and how players position themselves on the field - specifically those AWAY from the ball
How various players in your position play the game. See if you can understand the decisions they make and WHY they made them
Once you start getting a feel for the overall flow of the game, it’s useful to start understanding the IRB Laws: These are the official rules of the sport. Whether you’re new or a veteran, it’s always useful to review these periodically, as they are constantly changing as the sport evolves.
Position- and Role-Specific Skills
As you start playing and get assigned to a position - potentially multiple positions - you will hopefully start looking to better understand your position(s), what role(s) you will play, and what skills will be most relevant for you. If you're in the front row, scrummaging is a huge focus for you. If you're a flyhalf or fullback, you will need to learn the various types of rugby kicks.
Again, there is a LOT of guidance available online - but this is an area where you'll also want to chat with the coaching staff, to better understand how to make a bigger impact within OUR team's strategy.