Modern rugby training must equip players for the demands of a game that has become increasingly faster in recent years.
Although at lower levels, players can be quite unfit, with appropriate rugby training, players at all levels can dramatically improve their fitness levels.
Classified as multi-sprint sport, the demands include high levels of speed and explosive power, plus the ability to recover quickly between sprints. In addition, there are endurance demands to ensure that players can still perform at the end of an 80-minute game.
At elite levels players are quick, particularly the backs, able to cover 40 meters in just over 5 seconds. They also need to be quick off the mark and accelerate quickly.
Programs are designed to build a combination of speed, power and endurance. Interestingly, at professional levels, backs and forwards have very similar physiological profiles. Although backs are usually faster than forwards, there is little difference in aerobic endurance and muscular strength, emphasising the need for all players to possess a balance of athletic abilities.
Conditioning programs have to focus on developing all these abilities, plus the essential game skills such as tackling, jumping and so. This means that trained coaches are needed to develop programs that balance out all these different skills, allowing players to develop while still giving them time to rest and recover.