How much variation is there?

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    I was just day dreaming in a world of my own and wondered just how much the training of professional rugby clubs differ. How many differences would there be in the strength and conditioning that say the Leicester Tigers do compared to how Bristol train their players or how you do your job at the Crusaders Ash? Is there many major differences in the training that premiership and super 14 rugby teams do? Or is the majority of the training done similar but with minor differences?



    Well to tell you the truth I have no idea what the other teams are doing, so I can not honestly even guess the differences, I have not read anything that any of the other s & c coaches have published or if they have published an outline of an off season or in season week to compare what we do with, cheers, ashley


    Speaking from Bristol’s perspective and from the literature Ash has been kind enough to publish on this site I can say that yes there are differences. These mainly consist of the length of the season and the off/pre-season periods.

    At Bristol we have a squad of 51 players which is very big and i believe that most super 14 teams have roughly 35 players. In terms of strength & conditioning that does impact on planning and delivery of sessions. We have 3 S & C coaches and it does not take a genius to work out that if we had a squad of 35 then the quality of delivery would improve.

    Also in the southern hemisphere rugby is played in better conditions on much better pitches, this is conducive to a faster game and therefore players require higher levels of aerobic/anaerobic fitness. The conditions in the UK can be awful and pitches like mudfields, from a conditioning standpoint this requires the forwards to be very strong and powerful but not quite as fit as their southern hemisphere counterparts. In addition this year we are not playing the free kick rule, wheras last year the southern hemisphere did, which again impacts on conditioning.

    Of course each coach has subtle differences in their philosophy and opinions on how players should be trained. So in answer to your question I would imagine there are some things similar but also lots of things done differently.


    Bris83, you make a good point there. I do believe as well that with global economic forces squad sizes will reduce, and a good by product will be that home grown talent will be forced through and have to be given their head sooner rather than later as happened regularly 10-15 years ago.

    The harder grounds in Aus/SA/NZ does make a huge advantage not only in the conditioning of elite players but also in the development and teaching of Junior Age Group players- the skill levels I have seen in AIS U19’s Touring teams is scary. I think also in Union in particular far too much time is sent perfecting set piece plays even in Junior sides, instead of teaching kids to run hard, catch and pass well, and tackle with great technique.

    Enough on coaching- this is a S&C site!!!

    I think most teams will have variation on the same theme.

    My local side Bradford Bulls did many different things when Carl Jennings was head conditioner- and when he was there they were pretty much unmatched in the league, seemed to have few injuries and always seemed reayd to stick it out the full 80min.

    I would dearly love to see- in similar fashion to Ash’s eye on the Crusaders programmes- an eye on say the Brisbane Bronco’s training programme- weights and running work. Dean Benton and Jeremy Hickmans have been on top of their games in recent years and their sides always seem to be very fit and fast with even big old lumps like me being turned into great shape and gaining a few yards of pace.

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