Rugby Specific Circuit Training

Circuit training as covered previously in the Conditioning for Youths online learning module is a great way to apply an effective training stimulus to many players. By adjusting the work: rest periods, the exercises, the number of circuits or the amount of exercises per circuit, the coach can adjust the workload and training mode.

The opportunities to integrate rugby-specific work into a circuit training conditioning session are limitless. Some stages of the circuit could be conditioning exercises whilst other stages could be skill work. The coach could also incorporate various rugby drills into a circuit format. If these drills are of a physical nature, then they have a conditioning component whilst still focusing on game related skills. This is an excellent method of training as players can work on areas of weakness whilst still getting a conditioning stimulus which will cause them to adapt and get fitter. The sample circuit outlined below is a good example of drill based circuit training.

Maul ballIn a crouched position, Player 1 protects a rugby ball, while Player 2 attempts to 'maul' the ball. Perform the drill for 15 seconds, change roles and repeat. This equals 1 repetition.
Forward drivePlayer 1 holds a pad in front of Player 2. Player 2 drives the pad back 5 metres. Player 1 is encouraged to offer high resistance but allowing Player 2 to reach the 5 metre cone within 5 seconds. Immediately back-pedal 5 metres to the start line and repeat for four drives. Rest 10 seconds, change roles and repeat. This equals 1 repetition.
Get up!Player 1 starts on the floor, face down, while Player 2 stands above Player 1. The aim of the drill is for Player 1 to get up from the floor, and for Player 2 to keep Player 1 on the floor. Perform the drill for 15 seconds, change roles and repeat. If a player succeeds in getting up within 15 seconds, repeat the drill until 15 seconds has elapsed. Do not lie on the top of partner - stay on your feet! This equals 1 repetition.
Tackle shuttlePlayer 1 lies face down 3 metres from a tackle bag or partner holding a pad. Player gets up, stays low, and tackles the bag/pad, alternating leading shoulders, and focuses on hitting the bag/pad back a few metres. Back-pedals to the start line following each tackle. Perform the drill for four tackles, change roles and repeat. This equals 1 repetition.

A circuit may just involve repetitions of these drills or the coach can separate the drills with running efforts or multi-sprint efforts. This then adds variety to the game-related conditioning unit. Note that when the exercises are performed in pairs and players change roles every few reps then one of the players may be in active recovery. E.g., when Player 1 is holding the pad during a forward drive drill, this is an active recovery time for them.

The following videos are other example of drills and exercises that could be used in a rugby based conditioning circuit: