Evolution Of A Rugby Player | Fitness And Workout

Evolution Of A Rugby Player

For rugby lovers, one of the most anticipated tournaments is certainly the "Six Nations Tournament”(Six Nations) which will return in February and March and will see the British & Irish Lions as the first protagonists.

During the period leading up to major competitions, the players follow a very detailed diet and training routine, in order to give your best on the pitch.

In order to have a complete picture, let's see how the figure of the rugby player has evolved in recent years: Rugby Union has been declared professional league in 1995, after the success reported at the world championships in South Africa, but this also meant a greater commitment of time and energy for the athletes who until then had always practiced rugby as a "part-time" sport.

With the transition to a higher level, the minds and bodies of the athletes have been shaped and oriented towards complete dedication to the team and to victory.

As È Rugby was born?

Rugby was born from a revolutionary act carried out on November 1823, XNUMX by the young man William Webb Ellis, who during a football match played on the lawn of the Public School of Rugby, an English town in Warwickshire, took the ball with his hands (at the time allowed by the rules) and began to run (which was not allowed by the regulations) to the bottom where he deposited the ball.

This says the legend, taken as the official version, because rugby players like to think that Rugby was born with the heart and with the courage to go against the rules. The story goes that, during the following years, this sport became more popular in the UK. The official date of birth of rugby may be 1866 when the International Rugby Board was founded.

Evolution Of A Rugby Player | Fitness And Workout

The lack of uniformity of rules between the various ways of playing football caused a first, great, split: in 1863 the representatives of a group of English clubs decided to adopt the Cambridge Rules, partially modified, and founded the Football Association, thus giving life to what will be known as Association Football or soccer.

The clubs that maintained the Rules of Rugby, in turn, founded their own official body, the Rugby Football Union (RFU), in 1871.

The second separation took place within the Rugby Football Union in 1892 when, some clubs from the north of England formed the Northern Rugby Football Union, which later became the Rugby Football League, which soon began to make profound changes to the rules, up to a decidedly different version of rugby football from that managed by the RFU.

Since the official versions of rugby were at that point two, it was necessary to distinguish them also in the name: the rugby union was the one managed by the RFU and the rugby league the one governed by the RFL.

Physical and tactical changes

Evolution Of A Rugby Player | Fitness And Workout

From the photos above, we can grasp the points of difference and conjunction which have characterized the changes recorded by rugby players in recent years.

The physical changes are truly remarkable but those relating to game tactics are even more so, in fact in the previous 80s the game was much more based on the continuity of the game, the players aimed to keep the ball as far from the ground as possible and to be agile and snappy to be able to jump between the defenders.

Today, however, the players are a lot more marked by contact and confrontation, making opposition and resistance with the opponents. The question we ask ourselves at this point is: in recent times has the importance of player training increased or is the demand for bigger and more massive players to be increased?

In the 80s we knew or thought we knew little in terms of sports science, consequently we do not have much data to refer to or in any case to be able to compare with those of today.

The coaches prepared the players by bringing out their natural skills and abilities, until in the first World Cup games began to be more competitive and in response the players began to increase their physical dimensions in order to be able to prevail in the hand-to-hand clash with the players of the opposing teams.

Rugby has thus become not only a sport of skill but also of physical strength.

From this point on, players began to integrate to their lineup too gym workouts, gaining a lot from strength disciplines such as powerlifting and bodybuilding.

Coaches began to prefer players to be bigger and stronger: that meant lift heavier weights workout after workout, which led them on the one hand to increase muscle mass, and on the other hand to a significant decrease in their stamina on the pitch, while aiming at strengthening team spirit.

Until 1995 that of the rugby player is not seen as a real profession, in fact most of the players underestimated the importance of good physical preparation and conceived rugby as a hobby to devote time to after working hours.

Beginning in 1995, coaches and especially the players themselves began to understand the importance of good training in order to make the team and staff function at their best.

Thanks to the latest changes in the rules, the game has become more continuous and demanding, with the inclusion of new measures such as the “touch” sanction, ie not being able to kick the ball directly at first contact; this has meant for the players the development of greater resistance on the pitch.

An important contribution also comes from the field of technology (the invention of GPS has allowed improvements in the field in order to provide a general overview of the available space for the correct formation and disposition of the team), of science, of research in the field of training and nutrition, have contributed to improving many factors that until that moment had been completely ignored, helping and supporting the players in their professional training.

Today a rugby player weighs an average of 105,33kg unlike a player from 1994 whose average weight was 92,3kg.

This significant change is due to advances in modern food sciences that have profoundly changed the fundamentals of the diet, giving primary importance to proteins (recommending an intake of 3g of protein per kg of body weight, even reaching an average of 300g of protein per day).

All of these changes have contributed to making the game as a whole much more exciting and engaging, although for the players all of this can fuel an increasing number of risks due to the greater number of collisions between bodies of higher mass during the game. often a collision can be equivalent to that with a car going at a speed of 30 miles per hour or scientifically with a force of over 10,000 N.

As a result of this, a further modification of the game rules is expected, in order to safeguard the safety and integrity of the players during the match.

Some curiosities about rugby:

  • In 1974 Michael O'Brien was the first sportsman to go out on the field naked during a rugby match
  • The Women's RFU was founded in 1983 and only recently turned pro in 2014.

Evolution Of A Rugby Player | Fitness And Workout

Proportions of a rugby player

The physical size and strength of rugby players have increased considerably.

In 1994 the rugby players of the English team weighed an average of 92.3kg while in 2014 about 105.1kg.

Evolution Of A Rugby Player | Fitness And Workout


During the years

The All Blacks, representing New Zealand, are considered one of the strongest in the world.

How have your players changed over time?

Let's take a look at the average height of its players over the years:

  • June 1947 vs Australia
  • January 1963 vs Australia
  • June 1985 vs England
  • June 2000 vs Scotland
  • July 2015 vs South Africa

Evolution Of A Rugby Player | Fitness And Workout

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