How to Get Better at Rugby

Step-by-step Instructions

Here is what you need to do...
Step 1

As I mentioned earlier there are three things I strive to do on my own every week to improve my rugby game- lifting/fitness, skills, and film. I'll talk in detail about how I approach these aspects as a player.

Step 2

Lifting/fitness This is the real meat and potatoes of rugby. 8 times out of 10 the more fit team will win regardless of rugby IQ. Running and hitting for 80 minutes is no joke and rugby players are arguably some of the fittest athletes in the world. When I was in the peak of my OSU career I was in the gym at least 4 times a week. Sometimes twice a day, and on practice days. Lifting this much can take it's toll physically so it is important to consume a lot of healthy proteins and carbohydrates and to get plenty of rest.

Step 3

During the competitive season I try to stay away form a lot of extra running. We get plenty of running in practice and on game day. I'd try to do about 20 minutes of extra running one or two times a week, and keep it light. If I'm feeling too sore to run an exercise bike or elliptical are great alternatives. Regardless of what position one plays in rugby, getting big in the gym is going to be a benefit. For more specific training ideas, check out my other tips!

Step 4

Skills When rugby players refer to skills they are talking about the aspects of finesse in the game, such as the passes, running angles and decision making skills. Most of these aspects have to be worked on in a group, ideally a group that you are able to play with a lot. So much of rugby is about communication on the field so they better you know your teammates the better you’ll be able to understand each other’s playing styles, strengths, and weaknesses. That being said, there are things you can do on an individual level to improve your skills, especially ball handling.

Step 5

The easiest way to do this is just keep a ball in your hands as often as you can. Toss it up in the air at your self, kick it to yourself, bounce it to yourself, do anything you can to be 100% comfortable and in control with a ball in your hands. At the risk of sounding like a zen master, be one with the ball! During the slow part of the Summer season, when 7s is winding down and 15s is starting up I like to go out to the pitch a couple times a week on my own or with a couple mates to goof around with the ball. I run up and down the field making passes or kicking and chasing the ball. It's a great way to get a run around and the more time you spend on the pitch with a ball the more at home you're going to feel there.

Step 6

Film In the US it can be difficult to find a rugby match to watch on TV. However, watching rugby as much as possible is key to understanding the game with a full appreciation. The 2011 world cup highlights and full games are available on DVD. When watching rugby try to watch the players that play the same position as you and follow as they run around the field. Watch where the set up on the field to launch an attack, and how they match up on defense. Watching rugby with your mates or with a more experienced player is great too, they might make comments that make you see things you wouldn't have otherwise.

Special Attention

Difficulties people often experience or parts that need special attention to do it right.

The hardest part about improvement is staying motivated. It's hard to wake up a couple hours early to get that extra lift in the first few times, but once you start seeing the benefits you'll be hooked. When all your mates are inside watching TV but you're out playing catch or watching a highlight play over and over you'll be the one that ends up scoring the game winning try. Even if the road seems slow and hard keep a fire in your belly and stay motivated, progression is a beautiful things!

Stuff You'll Need

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Funny or interesting story about this topic...

I've seen all types of people drawn towards rugby. Athletes from other sports, gym rats, meat heads, and people that have never played a sport or lifted a weight in their life. There is a big sense of community in rugby and even the non athletic types are welcomed. Thanks to this attitude of openness I've seen guys that could hardly catch a ball standing still learn how to run athletically and even juke people. Practicing rugby will make anyone a more athletic person.

When did you first do this & how did you get started?

My third year playing with OSU I received the most improved player award at our end of the year banquet. I have to give heaps of credit to my mates and coaches because without their motivation and guidance I wouldn't be where I am. That being said, I spent a lot of solo time in the weight room, on the field, and in front of the screen watching film. To get better at anything you have to be able to motivate yourself to do what you gotta do to improve regardless of what others are doing or saying. Its all about the "go big or go home" attitude.

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