This assignment will focus on the physical attributes and
needs to be able to perform at the elite level of rugby. It will discuss
different methods on how to improve and test different components of the
physical needs in rugby such as speed and strength. I will also use my
resources at Worcester Warriors to explain how we test the different physical
components and what a top end player in my position like Francois Hougaard
scores in them, I will then compare my results to his to show the difference
between the physical standard of A-league rugby and Premiership rugby. Rugby is
a very physical sport that requires players to out physic each other for a long
period of time. Due to this the main physical components that I will discuss
are muscular strength, power, muscular endurance, speed and cardiovascular endurance.

The key physical components that are needed to achieve elite
level performance in rugby are, muscular strength, muscular endurance, power,
speed and cardiovascular endurance. Muscular strength is the ‘the amount of force a muscle can exert against an
object’- (Julie Walmsley 1 Apr 2009). Weight training should be used to develop
muscular strength as it will develop strength the quickest as it provides the
greatest resistance for the muscle to push against, it can also be modified and
adjusted to the strength that you require in the areas that are specific with
your sport. Weight training is also good as it is the best way to increase
muscular strength because it offers the most resistance therefore tearing more
muscle fibers. Sessions also can be changed and adapted to special needs or
injuries with ease, this can also prevent boredom as different exercises can
train the same part of the body.To test muscular strength the one repetition
max test is most widely used as you can perform any lift with it

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Another
component of physical performance in rugby is power, this is the ability to exert a maximal force
in as short a time as possible, it can also be defined as speed multiplied by strength.
This would be used when jumping for a high ball or breaking through a tackle as
you are using a maximum effort in a very short amount of time. Plyometric training which is also known as jump
training is a good method of training to use. This is because it requires your
legs to exert a maximal force against the ground in a very short amount of time
to make you jump as high as possible. This is also very specific to the
movement required when you jump for the high ball in rugby as the same muscles
are being used. A good way to evaluate an athletes power is the Power Matt
Vertical jump Test, this is because the test has a lot of normative data to
compare your results to and is very specific. The test requires your muscles produce strong contractions very quickly
as you are trying to jump as high as you can, this therefore is a valid test as
it measures the power on his legs well. The test is also very practical as you
only need the power matt which can be bought and a small amount of space.

Speed is
another component of fitness that is crucial in rugby, speed is the ability to move quickly across the
ground or move limbs rapidly to grab or throw. For developing speed
interval training is a good method of training to use. This is because it
requires short high intensity exercise which makes you work anaerobically which
is then followed by a break to allow you to recover for the next repetition.
This is specific to rugby as the athlete will be working anaerobically and at
high intensity for a short period of time when the ball is in play but then get
a rest when it is out of play. By varying the intensity of interval training you
prevent boredom whilst training, this can motivate you to work harder when
training resulting in greater gains. If you are running no specialist equipment
is need for the training therefore reducing the cost of the training. It is a
great way to increase speed because you are practicing moving fast across
distances. A way to test speed is the 30m dash, this requires you to run as
fast as possible over a short distance which is very specific to rugby as it I
rare that you will have to sprint over 30m. The test also has a lot of
normative data so it is a reliable test that you Can compare your results to.

Cardiovascular endurance is another key physical
component for rugby as you are having to exercise for 80 minutes. Cardiovascular endurance refers to the ability of the body to continuously
transport oxygen throughout its various systems for extended periods of time. Continuous
training is a good way to try and increase cardiovascular endurance. It
requires your body to transport oxygen to the working muscles for long periods
of time, this is specific to rugby because the player has to last 80 minutes
with the muscles getting the right amount of oxygen to prevent fatigue. Continuous
training is the most effective way to improve cardiovascular endurance because
it requires you to work aerobically and keeps the body at the oxygen threshold
when exercising. No specialist equipment is required either as all you need is
space to run, this also makes the training more available as the cost is very
low. Continuous training is also very good for the circulatory and respiratory
system, as requires blood to be transported around the body for long periods of
time which exercises the muscles. There are many ways to test cardiovascular
endurance such as the bleep test and the copper run. The cooper run is a
practical test as you don’t need to the system that the bleep test uses, the
athlete is required to run continuously around a measured grid for twelve
minutes and at the end will have run a certain amount of meters which will be
there score.

The last
physical component that is needed in rugby is muscular endurance, this is the ability to contact muscles a lot of times
without fatigue which is crucial in games as lot of skills and movements are
repeated throughout the game such as tackling and passing. A good way to
training muscular endurance is circuit training this causes muscles in the body
to do many repetitions of exercises when they are fatigued. This is good
because this will happen in a game in skills like passing and tackling, your
muscles need to not be fatigued for these otherwise your performance will
decrease. Circuit training is good because it can be designed to train your
whole body, this will reduce any chance of muscle imbalance and will give you a
full body workout in one session. It also requires a short amount of time to do
it in maximizing intensity and your time in the day. Due to the high intensity
of circuit training it sends your metabolism soring meaning you will burn fat
quicker. A good way to test muscular endurance is maximum repetitions testing
in the gym, this can be used on any exercise so as you can get results for all
the muscles in the body.

In this part of
the assignment I will evaluate Francois Hougaard’s strength compared to mine
and how we test them at Worcester Warriors. At Worcester Warriors we use the one
rep max test to determine strength, this is because it can be used on all the
main compound lifts such as bench press, back/front squat and clean. This enables
data to be collected on every major in the body allowing strengths and weaknesses
to be picked out easily. Francois’s main strength to his game is his athleticism
and strength, he excels in the gym which allows him to be a defensive and strong
ball carrier during the game. Francois’s one rep max on box squat is 190kg which
compared to his body weight of 95kg is exceptional. This is why he can put in
dominant tackles on the pitch as he has a very strong leg drive which is the
base of strength in a tackle. It also allows him to stay strong when he carries
the ball into contact giving him the opportunity to get the offload away. This is
an area that I need to improve on, being only 13kg lighter than Francois my one
rep max for back squat is only 140kg. this falls 50kg short from Francois score
which is the standard that I need to aim for to play premiership rugby, it will
give me the strength to hold defenders and take my aggressive tackling from
A-league level to Premiership level. Another area of strength that Francois has
is his one rep max on bench press, he can lift 130kg which again compared to
his body weight is a good score.  This
allows Francois to have a very good hand off which on multiple occasions has
allowed him to make breaks resulting in tries and offloads such as the 2017
game against Bristol where Francois used his fend twice to set up a try and
score and ultimately save Warriors from relegation. Compared to my one rep max
of 110kg my score is much better than my squat and only needs minimal improvement
before it is up to standard to meet the physical demands of elite rugby The only
lift where Francois one rep max is slightly weak is his chin up, he lifts 30kg
in addition to his body weight which is the same result as me, this however isn’t
too important as there is no movement in rugby that is massively similar to a
chin up. However, he still needs to improve on this as it is a compound lift
that targets many muscles in the body such as the biceps, latissimuss dorsi and
the deltoids which will help build muscle quickly in the upper body. On the
other hand Francois’s muscular endurance on chin ups is very good as he can
perform 25 reps with strict technique, to test this at Worcester Warriors we
use the Max repetition test to see how many continuous repetitions an athlete
can do.

To conclude this
assignment, in order to play at the elite level in rugby and have high performance
you need to be able to physically cope with the demands of the sport as it is a
contact sport. The main physical components needed for all positions in rugby
are muscular strength, power, speed, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance.
However different positions will need one component more than the other for
example, a prop will needs more muscular strength because they have to exert a
massive amount of force in the scrum but a winger will need more speed as they need
to finish tries and make line breaks. A scrum half will need more
cardiovascular endurance as they have to keep up with the ball and get to every
ruck for 80 minutes, causing them to run longer distances in games. This is why
different positions will have different training programs as their physical demands
in a game differ but they will all target these components to some degree.

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