Rugby training: conditioning techniques

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With Ian Burbedge

1) Press-up, sprint and alternate ball carry

Player sprints with ball under one arm 5 yards, then does one press-up, puts ball under other arm, sprints another 5 yards, does one more press-up, puts ball under first arm, then sprints back to start position.


In pre-season the players are allowed to walk back, but must sprint again once back to start position. During the season players have a 20-second rest after sprinting back.


2) Passing under fatigue square drill

With a square made up of 4 cones placed 10 yards apart, a player stands on each cone, with the ‘sprinting’ player in the middle of the square holding a ball. This player then passes to another player on one of the cones and then sprints around another player (on another cone) and then back towards the middle of the square. Once the sprinting player has got around the player and is facing in towards the centre of the square, the ball should be thrown back towards the middle of the square by the player who has received the pass, for the sprinting player to catch and then pass again to another player.

This is a 1-minute circuit. The aim for this is to keep the sprinting player moving constantly during that time.

3) Two-player scrimmage and sprint

Two players get into a scrimmaging position, with each having the same leading leg. On the call, ‘engage’ the players to take their positions, on the call ‘push’ they push against each other. I would keep the players in this position for a maximum of 30 seconds. I then call ‘sprint’ - the players let go of each other and do a 10-yard sprint. I allow a 20-30 second rest period then the drill is repeated with the scrimmaging position being reversed in terms of lead leg.


4) Two-player reaction and get away side step through ladder and sprint drill

Two players stand side by side with a ladder set up to their respective left and right side. The player on the left starts the drill by ‘tapping’ the other player on the shoulder – this is done to encourage quick reactions by each player. The players sidestep through the ladder and then sprint 10 yards. The aims of this drill are: 1) for the ‘tapping’ player to use an advantage of knowing what he wants to do before the other player 2) for the ‘tapped’ player to get used to reacting to another’s movement and 3) on the running side of the drill for both players to get used to getting away from, or catching up another player.


This drill is done with both players doing the ‘tapping role’ and obviously going through ladders from both sides (to develop equal left/right side agility).


React, agility ladder, two foot in each rung, criss-cross and sprint drill

This drill is very similar to the previous one, but this time the players step through forward facing ladders. They place both their feet in each rung as they traverse it from side to side.


5) Press-up, hurdle and sprint drill

 This drill starts with the player laying face down. A small hurdle (or tackle bag) is placed close to the player’s head, then a 3-yard gap, another hurdle or tackle bag, with a cone placed a further 5 yards away.

The players do a press-up, get up, jump over the first hurdle, do another press-up, then jump the next hurdle, and sprint five yards to the cone. Recovery: walk back and repeat.


 Drills supplied by Ian Burbedge. Ian is based in London and is a personal trainer and coach, specialising in rugby and boxing training. He currently works with Hammersmith and Fulham RFC. He has developed his own one-on-one boxing workout called Padbox and he runs accredited training courses for PT’s. For further information go to or phone 07930 376 995.


Tags: Tagged in PP Video, Rugby & Conditioning
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