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Fitness Tests for Rugby

As with most football codes, rugby requires a very good levels of skill, speed, agility and endurance (see Rugby Fitness). Therefore, there are many components of fitness that are important for success - see out discussion about Fitness Components for Rugby Union.

The importance of each component of fitness will depend on the playing position, where the strength is important for the props, and speed for the backs. You should also compare these recommendations to the fitness tests and norms for the South African team, the Springboks in 2007.

Fitness Component Example Tests Comments
Aerobic Fitness The shuttle run (beep) test is very good for testing the aerobic fitness of a whole team at once, or the simpler Bronco Test. There has also been developed a rugby specific test (the J.A.M. test) that is based on the intensity of the game. You can find information on many other aerobic tests here. Aerobic fitness is a very important component of fitness for rugby, as each player will cover a long distance throughout a game. 
Flexibility The sit and reach test can be done for lower back and hamstring flexibility.  Good hamstring flexibility is important for rugby players in running and for ball kicking skill. 
Strength & Power The vertical jump test can be performed to measure leg power. Maximal strength tests for specific exercises should be conducted, such as the 1RM Bench Press. Strength (and power tests) should also be done to determine strength levels and to monitor strength changes in conjunction with training programs. 
Speed Sprint time over 40m, with a split time for the first 10m should be measured. If you have timing gates available, you may also want to record further splits at 5m and 20m. Maximum running speed and acceleration are very important in rugby. You may also want to test running speed while carrying the ball, as this is when you want your players to be fast.
Repeat Sprints A repeat sprint test is designed to measure not only anaerobic power, but also the ability to recover from short bursts of high intensity exercise. You can test just the repeat sprint ability with tests such as Running Based Anaerobic Sprint Test (RAST). Rugby players are required to continually produce short bursts of high intensity work interspersed with lower intensity activity.
Body Fat Body fat can be measured using the skinfold method. If this is not available, monitoring body weight changes would give an indication of body fat changes, assuming no change in muscle mass. Excess body fat would affect the player's ability to move freely around the field, and the extra weight will increase fatigue during the game. See more about anthropometry and rugby.
Agility An agility test in which the player has to make a turn of less than 45 degrees would be suitable, as no turns greater than this are made at speed during a game. See about Agility testing. The ability to quickly change direction is very important to evade the defense and make a break in rugby. 

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