Rugby running with or wihout the ball is more than just running. Maintain
balance, vary pace, choose running angles, minimise injury, create options.
Posture for running in rugby
"Running hunched", with a bit of a "stoop" is what I
recall doing. Do some more research on
this, I`m having to remember a long time ago!
I would say my back was curved and
rounded to some extent, pushing my shoulders forward and shortening my neck as
opposed to having my chest out and my chin up. As I type this the sight of
wary boxers in a ring comes to mind
This may not be the best posture for top speed but should be good for
minimizing your injuries and providing a formidable target for would-be
A rugby field is a hard place to be.
At any moment you may have a collision with other players. If you`re
the ball carrier, plenty of other players are doing their best to put you on
the floor. It`s well worth being prepared.
If you are at top of your game, squeezing the last ounce out of your sprinting
ability may make good sense. For others, learning to run fast and powerfully
whilst avoiding injury may be more important.
Remember you are often carrying the ball
You are often carrying the ball in rugby and running as well. This prevents you
from using the same style as a track sprinter.When you want to run flat out
with the ball you have to find a way to maintain your balance and keep
the ball secure. You can find out how you do this where
I explain the one arm carry.
At other times you`ll want to stay balanced, keep your options open and keep the
opposition guessing about
what you intend doing with the ball. The best way to do this is to run with the
ball in two hands in front of you. Find how you do this at the page on
the two hand carry
Pace and change of pace in rugby running
Running at top pace is not something you do all the time in rugby. You often
run at a fraction of the pace you are capable of running and you use change of
pace as tool to beat the opposition.
Imagine running at three-quarter pace with an opponent closing rapidly to
tackle you. If you are able to suddenly, quickly and just at the correct moment
change to a faster pace, it may be enough to avoid the tackle and put you in
Change of pace is also very useful in changing the nature of a contest. I am
a shorter player with the abilty to accelerate rapidly. However I never had
a great top speed. I was able to prolong my runs by changing them
from one long run to several shorter sprints. Baulking slightly then
accelerating hard can throw off longer legged opponents.
Changing pace is something you can easily practice by yourself. See yourself
supporting the ball carrier, trotting along at half or three-quater pace
then suddenly clap on the pace to receive the pass and burst through the gap.
When you`re practicing alone it`s really helpful to vizualise the situations
you will be in. Read almost any rugby related autobiography and you will be
told stories about pretending to be playing in great matches.
Rugby running angles position opponents
This image shows the position of a player you want to beat.
Rugby running, angled run
Often the temptation
is to run a line to beat the player on the outside, Doing this helps your
opponent. They have a shorter distance to travel than you do and it`s
relatively easy to work out where to tackle you.
They also (in this example) are able to use the sideline as an extra defender,
leave you less room to manoeuvre and reduce space for potential support play.
Instead, you can get them to stay where they are or change position to their
disadvantage by changing the direction that you run. Running straight (at them!)
fixes them in position.
Rugby running, straigbt run
You make ground while they stay fixed in place, If you change your angle as
you run towards them they have to change theirs or risk you running past.
This allows you to set yourself up for a sidestep either way or for passes
or dummy passes to support players.
The straight run, surprisingly, creates much more doubt and concern for
the defence and this greatly increases your chances of getting past them.
This is a very simple example which can play out in many different
ways in a game.
Off season activities help rugby running
I explain elsewhere that I spent a lot of time doing gymnastics and playing
basketball. The gym helped me develop great balance and control of
my body. The basketball helped me with rapid acceleration and decelleration.
Both sports helped me stay on my feet in rugby and put great spring in my legs.
If you don`t have a background like mine, you may find it useful to make up
for it with some intensive activities. To my mind people tend to specialise
too much these days. You may think the more you practice rugby the better you will
be. Perhaps doing other things may be as good or better.
You can do planned training to prepare yourself for rugby. Read this article about
rugby specific training
to improve your knowledge, strength, power and fitness.
Doing some martial arts training may toughen you up, help you avoid injury
when you`re tackled and just generally help you cope better with the rough and
tumble nature of rugby.
Sprint training and practice may help you with your top speed and put more strength
into your legs for all the times you need the pushing and leaping power
Being supple also helps your running. You are more able to twist and turn to
evade tackles and more able to resist injury from twists, turns and strains.
You may find Yoga helpful.
You can spend the off season involved in a number of activities and feel the
benefit when you start your rugby running for the new season.
You`ll run straight past`em!
Know more of what rugby players know - follow the link below.