Why do rugby players need strength training?

There is a misconception that rugby is a contact sport. 
It isn’t. Ballroom dancing is a contact sport.
Rugby is a collision sport.”

To safely prepare rugby players to compete, and even excel, in their sport they need a safe and effective athletic development program run by a suitably qualified and experienced Strength & Conditioning coach.

Why Athletic Development? 

Increasing strength is one component of athletic development. Other components include: moving better, improving mobility, flexibility, speed and power.

There are two primary reasons for an athletic development program. Firstly, improvements in athleticism can help prevent injuries. Fewer injuries mean more time on the training field. And more game time. 

It allows athletes to progress at a faster rate than their injured teammates. 

Common injuries (e.g. hamstring strains, shoulder injuries, etc.) are also overcome quicker. 

In other words, the stronger, more athletic player often returns to full training if they’ve been on an athletic development program prior to the injury. 

Secondly, and obviously, an athletic development program can help improve performance.  It can help in the contact/collision aspects of the sport. Think: rucking, mauling, tackling, scrummaging and wrestling. It can make the player faster on the field and more dominant in the collision.

What about the Risks?

A common, but totally unfounded, fear is that of an athletic development program that might include the use of barbells, dumbbells and other resistance training equipment.

Typically, well-intentioned parents are concerned about “stunting growth” (essentially impossible), getting “too tight” (slightly possible, but not with an effective athletic development program), or getting injured during training (again, essentially impossible).

Athletic development programs (run by qualified and experienced coaches) are significantly less risky than almost every other sport.

Exercises that are good for rugby players

Typically, the best exercises for rugby players are the free weight exercises that target the whole body. These include:


Jumping, including hopping, are great exercises that can improve athleticism and power. Jump for height, distance or a combination of the two. 


Deadlifts work the legs, grip and full back. Working on these areas allows for physical domination of the opposition, and it’s best to perform one to five reps for moderate volume. This improves form while building strength.


Squats with a deadlift create a rock-solid core. You also get the added benefits of targeting the upper back when you do front squats.


For added power and strength, the classic push-up should always be in the exercise schedule for rugby players. Push-ups add muscle across the chest and arms while improving trunk strength.


Chin-ups and pull-ups are great builders of body mass for the upper body, and rugby players who are concerned with their strength training need to consider adding chin-ups to their strength workouts.

Improve your Performance by improving your Athleticism

The evidence is clear: an effective athletic development program is an essential component for decreasing the likelihood of injury and improving on-field performance. 

It is important that the athlete begin their journey as early as possible, learning the correct techniques while they’re young. 

If you’re a rugby player and want to improve your strength and performance then feel free to contact us.