Pre-season is traditionally seen as the time to make fitness gains and complete high amounts of training sessions of various modes to prepare for the competitive season. Pre-season can vary in length depending on the level of rugby played but it often begins with players coming back deconditioned following the off-season and this has to be taken into account (Francioni et al, 2016).
In terms of structuring the training programme pre-season can be broken up further into general preparation and specific preparation phases (Bompa and Haff, 2009). The general preparatory phase is based around increasing the physical fitness and work capacity. Technical and tactical elements are still included in the training week but the focus is to get the player physically fit enough to tolerate the demands of training and competition (Bompa and Haff,2009).
Coaches may believe that too much time can be devoted to physical training in this phase at the expense of technical and tactical skill development. However nearly all technical skills in rugby require a solid physical base and if this physical base is not achieved then skill development and execution may suffer (Bompa and Haff, 2009). High volume of training at relatively low intensity is usually the hallmark of the general preparatory phase as the coach is trying to build their players’ fitness base. If the coach choses high intensity and low volume then players could struggle to meet the high intensities required due to their levels of detraining from the off season.
General exercise prescription also defines the general preparatory phase. This means that the exercise and training used may not be overly specific to the sport of rugby but it is still building the physical capacities that will be required.