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Off-season training for junior rugby players
John Stack, CSCS 6/3/2012 6:20:57 PM
Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 3:10 PM
Joined: 6/3/2012
Posts: 2

Hi.  I've recently been appointed to the position of Head of Strength and Conditioning at a rugby school (not in the USA).  I'm managing all aspects of S&C and the players range from 12 years to 18 years.  Prior to my starting in the school, there was a lack of focus on strength and conditioning, so there are no formal protocols or programmes in place.  My role is to develop them.  However, at the moment, I have a senior panel (average age 17) to prepare for next season which starts in October.  A new Director of Rugby has taken over and he wants to make big changes (hence my appointment).

I've been reading a ton of information on training protocols but would love to hear about some real experiences.  A lot of what I have been reading has been very theoretical.  My focus over the the next two months or so will be predominantly hypertrophy (before we move onto strength and strength/power) so, at this time, that would be a priority for me.

If anybody could relate to me what programmes have worked best for them in terms of (functional) hypertrophy, I'd be very grateful.  We started training only last week and I've been doing non-sports-specific strength training with them, including modified strongman training.  They have never been taught any of the Olympic lifts or other variations and I have about 4 weeks to teach them at least one before they leave for the summer break.

My plan at the moment is as follows:

Right now: non-specific strength training, modified strongman, anaerobic endurance training

Next phase (summer break): hypertrophy and speed (i.e. sprint training)

August: strength and sports-specific drills

September: strength/power and sports-specific drills

October: power, sports-specific drills with the aim of peaking in mid- to late-October.


Many thanks,


Mr Sean Reilly 7/21/2014 5:30:57 PM
Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014 6:01 PM
Joined: 7/21/2014
Posts: 1

Hi John, 

I just saw this so figured I would throw in my two cents. I have been coaching college rugby for the last 3 years myself after playing at semi professional level in Ireland. I understand that your players are a bit younger but the concepts should be the same. Weighted ball passing is a great fundamental passing drill that I have found works well for both new and experienced players. So sprints while carrying the ball are good as well as with weighted vests/sleds if you have access to those.  Another tip I will add in is to keep all exercises in the gym and outside the gym dynamic. In other words do not allow the players heart rates to get close to resting. For this I have used super set training while in the gym as well as implementing exercises outdoors that require buddy carries, plyo-pushups, and jumping lunges, along with the all time favourite…the burpee. Burpee training is probably one of the best exercises for full body as well as in respect to rugby because players are always on the ground and getting up. So training them to do this when they are tired is a great way to keep them ahead of the competition.

Hope this helps a little.