New and returning players

New players

If you are new to Rugby Union a great place to start is by watching videos of past games and there’s plenty to find on youtube. A simple search will easily find highlights or full HD matches. Study the game and especially the position you feel your best suited for. Be realistic though, if you’re 11 stone you’ll probably not going to make it into the front row.

Official World Rugby Beginner’s guide

Beginners Guide
Available for download

Here’s a great introduction to the game on the England Rugby site with some explanatory videos.

Laws of the game: Download the laws of Rugby Union from the official World Rugby site.

Key components of the game: Scrum, Ruck, Maul, Lineout, Offside the list goes on. Rugby is a very technical game but it won’t take long to get acquainted with these.

The Referee: The golden rule on the pitch is respect the referee, without one you cannot play rugby. On the field you should always address the referee as Sir.

Rugby is NOT SOCCER, you will not remain on the pitch if you physically handle or verbally abuse the referee.

Recommended match and training kit

  • Mouthguard
  • Boots – ideally 2 pairs (firm and soft ground/no sharp edges)
  • Astro Turf trainers when training at Highworth.
  • Robust jersey and shorts
  • Water bottle
  • Shoulders pads, body or head protection (optional)
  • All jewellery should be removed

You can visit the World Rugby website for details on the permitted specifications for studded/moulded boots and protective clothing.

Returning players

You may have seen former England player Lewis Moody’s campaign Return to Rugby or were reinvigorated by the Rugby World Cup and decided to put a jersey back on. Here are some things that might help you get back into the game.

New laws

Crouch-Bind-Set: The new scrum engagement laws are illustrated in this RFU video.

Safety is paramount – stay aware from the head and neck area. Contact around the head and neck area is deemed unsafe and will be penalised. Avoid high tackles as well as the neck when clearing out your opponent in the breakdown.

When tackling a player you cannot lift the opponent’s hips above their shoulders. If by accident this occurs you must make every attempt to lower them safely to the ground. Dropping a player on their head will result in a Red Card and more than likely a serious injury to the opponent. Rugby is a contact sport, but it is played with respect for the opposition.

Also in the tackle and clean out you are required to use your arms. You must make an attempt to wrap your arms around your opponent, you can go in with your shoulder only.

When the ball is kicked high you can jump to compete for the ball in the air. You are not allowed to deliberately interfere with another player who is also competing in the air. This also applies in the lineout.

If you are near an opponent who has just caught the ball in the air, you cannot tackle him until he has landed. To do so can result in instant dismissal and once again put your opponent at extreme risk.

Concussion awareness – go to our HEADCASE page to get up-to-date, you’ll find links to more information and resources if you want to go into it in greater depth on the RFU website.

Introductory workouts

We will be adding some tailored workouts on the site for the more conditioned and experienced players. But if you’re coming from a less active lifestyle here are some tips to help you raise your fitness and strength.

The 4 staples of any rugby workout involve compound exercises which involve multiple muscle groups.

Squat | Deadlift | Bench Press | Clean and Press

Start off with a light weight like the bar – 20kg. Here you should work on your form, you’re not going to become a beast overnight. Form is key, bad form will quickly lead to injuries.

  • Squat – (legs, back, core)
  • Deadlift – (back, traps, core, hamstrings)
  • Bench Press – (chest, shoulder, triceps, core)
  • Clean and Press – (back, shoulders, hamstrings, core)

A rep range of 15-20 is a good place to start, this will help develop the smaller supporting muscles as well. But please always seek advice from a qualified instructor before performing any of these movements.

It seems people have stopped talking about abs and have started using the term core. This is because as well as your abdominals the core extends around the entire mid-section involving your obliques and the supporting muscles in your back. There’s a good core strength test at Mens Health along with development advice and workout plans.


High Intensity vs. Endurance

What is HIIT? (High Intensity Interval Training)
A sport like rugby requires players to be explosive for short periods of time followed by brief periods of recovery – essentially this is what HIIT simulates. This can be either cardio or resistance based, you’ll find a beginners guide at Mens Fitness.

This is great for base fitness, your body will be better at dealing with longer bouts of exertion. However, you are not going to jog around a rugby pitch at a constant pace. So mix up any endurance work you do with something more intense, try adding flat or hill sprints to your routine. They don’t have to be the full length of a pitch, most of the time a player never travels more than 10 – 15 metres in a single burst. But they are important for building up the efficiency of how your body recovers.

Post-match recovery

This generally involves beer, ale and cider. However, you may want to invest in an ice and heat pack for the inevitable aches and pains that follow a game. More serious of persistent issues may require sports injury massage and rehabilitation.