This is a great blog that I came across recently by Sale Sharks back Nicholas MacLeod, which criticises the modern rugby player for being little more than a gym monkey. Simon Shaw made the same point towards the end of last year after England’s less than satisfactory performance in the Autumn Internationals. But I can’t help thinking that they are looking at this the wrong way.I hear the same criticism in my sport too (a martial art), but the truth is that all things being equal (i.e. skill) the stronger faster man will win.
Today’s international rugby player is a professional sportsman. Their should be time in their schedule for both physical development and skill work, it shouldn’t be a question of one or the other. It seems to me that the criticism is that some of the modern players lack skill, and to some extent I would agree, but it’s a myth that press ups make you stupid. If a player lacks skill he lacks skill, that he’s in great physical shape is not the cause.
Today’s modern rugby player is a superb athlete. All clubs have nutritional experts that develop plans for each player, which will vary depending if the player needs to develop muscle mass, reduce body fat, increase their energy levels, etc. Players are fed at the clubs in line with directives from the dietitians. Speed for rugby players is based around acceleration and agility. This is developed through sled tows, repeated short sprints (eg 10-20m) and rapid changes of direction around agility courses. The training is intense and needs players to be fresh when attempting it. Attention is also given to running technique, as efficient movement protects against injury. It’s about more than muscle. Generally, every player wants to be more explosive.
If you want to find out more about modern rugby player training and how they balance gym works and skill work this is a great article by Peter Harding, Director of Physical Performance at London Irish