The importance of power and strength in rugby

Rugby is a game of great skill, and also requires physical endurance to play the full 80 minutes at pace. Players at all levels should be prepared to work on their power and strength in order to improve their overall game.

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Players must be able to change direction in rugby in a split second. They need pace, but they also need acceleration, and that needs power. Strength alone does not lift a line-out jumper – it must be combined with power. It is power that moves the scrum.


Ball skills are vital, though the physical elements of the game required to compete in scrums and mauls are every bit as important in rugby. Work muscles as groups rather than in isolation to ensure an overall benefit, and to minimise the injury risk. Weights are a great way to build strength and many clubs now have access to a weights room, though they should always be properly explained, monitored and supervised.

While lifting a huge dead weight will demonstrate strength, you should make time in your weights sessions to develop power too – lift a smaller weight on increased repetitions.

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Plyometrics are an increasingly popular way for rugby players to train. They build the fibre around the crucial muscles and are important for building the power behind the jumping, sprinting and pushing required for rugby. The exercises are made up using eccentric contraction (when the muscle lengthens) and concentric contraction (when it shortens). Be sure to leave adequate recovery time in between training sessions.

Being Rugby goes into more detail about why strength is so important to rugby players. There are rugby drills available from businesses like Sportplan that can help build strength and power when used regularly and in conjunction with skills training and correct diet.

Always be sure to do a full warm up before any training session, and especially before lifting weights, to avoid damage. A cool down period afterwards will also minimise injury risk.

Incorporating regular strength and power exercises into your training will improve your fitness and your performance during the game. Don’t try to do too much too soon however, tempting though it might be to push yourself. Follow a carefully planned programme for the best chance of success. You’ll see good, lasting results.

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