Sport offers a number of benefits for those who take part. These benefits cover a wide variety of areas including physical and mental health and a broadening of cultural and social awareness. Training is designed to prepare you physically, mentally and technically for the Game. To maintain good health and to help prevent injury and illness, players, coaches and associated medical staff should focus on maintaining a healthy body through proper training, diet, stress management and rest.

Fitness through exercise

The health benefits of Rugby are many and varied, and at the most basic level, Rugby is a great way of increasing the time spent doing physical activity. Current guidelines* suggest that adults should achieve a total of at least 30 minutes a day of at least moderate intensity physical activity on five or more days of the week. For children, the recommendation is at least 60 minutes of at least moderate intensity physical activity each day. At least twice a week this should include activities to improve bone health, muscle strength and flexibility.

Rugby for young people - a sport for all shapes and sizes

Rugby is a game that is uniquely suited for all shapes and sizes, girls and boys, all ages and abilities. It can be enjoyed in many forms, from fifteens to sevens to non-contact games and can even be played on the beach or on snow. There is a level of participation for every child to enjoy. By applying a holistic approach, Rugby and other sports can play a prominent role in promoting a healthy lifestyle, allowing players to enjoy a lifetime of sporting participation.

* Source: UK Department of Health

1. Try Rugby / Try Sport

Encouraging participation and promoting enjoyment, whatever the child’s ability, is a positive way to make the first significant steps towards developing a healthy lifestyle.

2. Social skills development

Participation in team sports in particular stimulates inclusion and interaction. It builds self-confidence and self-esteem, and forges the fellowships and friendships that are unique to sport and values such as integrity, solidarity and respect amongst others that are characteristic of Rugby.

3. Mental skills awareness

Through participation and structured training, Rugby develops the key mental skills of self control, concentration, discipline, decision making and leadership. Such important skills transcend all aspects of daily life.

4. Diet and nutrition

A balanced diet is key to sustaining the energy levels necessary to compete and train at every level of the Game. This also plays an important role in boosting energy levels for everyday life, improving concentration and performance and promoting a healthy lifestyle.


Basic hygiene

Basic hygiene is essential for maintaining a healthy active lifestyle, particularly when operating in the closed environment of a team. A good rule of thumb is to:

  • keep yourself clean, e.g. wash your hands at least five times a day
  • keep your kit clean, e.g. clothing, water bottles and gum shields
  • if you sustain a cut, clean it and cover it.


Fluid intake

Water is essential to normal body function. During exercise, the major water loss from the body is through sweat. To avoid a significant decrease in performance, this water must be replaced, both during matches and training. Indeed, during Rugby, keeping hydrated is more important than supplying fuel to the muscles.

Children should not routinely use sports drinks as their high sugar content may cause dental problems. Milk or milk shakes are a very good recovery drink as they provide fluid, protein and carbohydrate (in the case of milk shakes).

An easy way to check your hydration level is to observe the colour of your urine. The chart below will help. You should aim for your urine to be pale in colour which equates to 1 to 3 in the chart. If your urine colour matches 4 to 8, then you are dehydrated and must follow a rehydration protocol.


Nutrition, how it works and what foods you should be eating during your training and games are very important to your sport and performance. It is important to find the right balance between fats, carbohydrates and protein to ensure your body has enough fuel to sustain not only a single game of Rugby but also the training necessary to make it to that point. The body can be put through rigorous amounts of training but only if you supply it with the food it needs to stay strong and energised.

It is becoming apparent that many people eat too much carbohydrate including fructose from fruit. Carbohydrate intake should be mainly slow release (low GI) rather than refined carbohydrates (high GI). By contrast, most people’s diets contain too little protein (animal, especially fish and white meat, and plant), and vegetables. Most players should not need any protein supplementation. Vegetables are preferred to fruit as the main source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. In most people, eating a fresh balanced diet ingests sufficient vitamins and minerals so supplements should not be required.

An example of a nutritional plan can be downloaded from: 


Alcohol consumption is harmful as it affects training and performance in several ways, such as:

  • reducing muscle force production
  • decreasing muscle strength and power capabilities
  • altering the transport, activation, utilisation and storage of most nutrients
  • causing dehydration which may persist long after alcohol consumption - dehydration impairs performance
  • altering protein and carbohydrate metabolism, increasing metabolic rate and oxygen consumption
  • impairing recovery from injury and micro-tissue damage associated with training
  • impairing the functioning of the central nervous system, co-ordination and precision.

Dietary supplements - a case study

Adam Dean, a 17 year old Rugby player, was achieving the highest honours at his age group in Rugby, receiving international caps for England at under 18 level. Following the pressures of being told he needed to be “bigger, faster and stronger”, Adam began the use of supplements to complement his training and diet.
Although aware of having to adhere to the rules of the Prohibited List, the education Adam had received had not made him fully aware of the risk of potential contamination of supplements and he decided to make his decision based on his own research.
Adam chose a supplement that did not have any prohibited substances on the product label, a product that also made claims of being “suitable for drug tested athletes”. Assuming that the information provided by the manufacturer was accurate and substantiated, Adam began to take the supplements as part of his training regime.
Adam tested positive for 19-Norandrosterone (a prohibited anabolic agent) and the only explanation Adam could comprehend was that the positive test was attributable to the supplements that he was taking. Adam was banned for two years from Rugby.


Doping control plays an essential part in promoting and protecting doping free Rugby. World Rugby operates a zero tolerance policy to doping in Rugby. As a player you are solely responsible for any prohibited substances found to be present in your body. It is not necessary that intent or fault on your part be shown in order for an anti-doping rule violation to be established. This is known as the ‘strict liability’ principle.

Prohibited List

The Prohibited List is updated annually by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and defines what substances and methods are prohibited in and out of competition. The current Prohibited List can be downloaded from World Rugby’s anti-doping web site at: 

Medications and dietary supplements

Players who are taking any medication, prescribed or otherwise, or dietary supplement, should be certain it does not contain a prohibited substance. To check the ingredients of specific substances, the Global Drug Reference Online at may be of assistance, but only for products purchased in Canada, the UK or the USA. If in doubt, or for any other country, contact your National Anti-Doping Organisation.

Always advise your doctor or pharmacist before you are prescribed a medication that you may be subject to drug testing.

Players who are taking any medication, prescribed or otherwise, or dietary supplement, should be certain it does not contain a prohibited substance. To check the ingredients of specific substances, the Global Drug Reference Online at may be of assistance, but only for products purchased in Canada, the UK or the USA. If in doubt, or for any other country, contact your National Anti-Doping Organisation.

Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE)

A TUE provides a player with authorisation to use a prohibited substance or method to treat a legitimate medical condition or illness whilst continuing to play Rugby. More information on TUEs can be found at:

Drug testing procedures

If you are ever selected for testing you should know what is involved and what rights and responsibilities you have.

You can watch a video which explains the doping control process at:

'Social’ drugs – Cannabis, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Amphetamines

Cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines are often thought of in a social setting. However, they are all prohibited substances and players who return a positive sample for any of them may be subject to sanctions with a starting point of a two year ban from all sport.

The residue for all of these substances can be detected in the body for days after they were taken, and in the case of cannabis, sometimes weeks.

For more information on the effects of these substances visit: