The need for rugby speed

Here is a circuit that allows you to train the core running skills – changing direction, changing pace, turning, accelerating and running backwards or sideways. It is good for a pre-season or in season

1. 20m sprint

Players work in pairs racing against each other over 20m. Players run with someone who matches their position or physical size. Timing each sprint gives the players a target.

2. T-run

Set up as in the picture. Players can work against the clock or race against each other in two T’s.
There are five stages: sprint to the top, sidestep to the end, sidestep across to top, sidestep back to the middle and run backwards to the start.

Players can work with or without a ball.

3. Zig-zags

Two players work at a time through the zig-zags. The players start facing each other so one player starts off running backwards. At each cone, the player running forwards shouts “change” and both change direction to run to the next cone.

4. Mixed sprints

Set out cones as shown. Players work individually through the 20m course. They sprint to the first cone. Between the second and third cones they decelerate until they are almost stopped. At the third cone they accelerate and then change direction at each of the remaining cones.

5. Catch me if you can

Set up a 10m square and put two obstacles in the middle. One player sprints round the outside to the opposite corner. The other player sprints through the middle and round the obstacles. The first player to the opposite corner wins.


What top sprint coach Margot Wells has to say

Everyone can be made faster

It’s a myth that sprint speed is entirely natural and can’t be trained – that idea has been compiled by people who don’t know how to make people faster.

Real rugby sprints

Sprinters need to run for 10 seconds flat out, with everything firing and nobody in the way. In rugby, you need bursts of speed but also manoeuvrability and the ability to side-step and to face collisions. Coaching sprinters is like working with a drag-racing car; coaching rugby players is like working with a saloon car that gets bashed up every time and you have to put it back together, re-spray it and stick it back out again for the next match.

Concentrate on technique

Players need to lean forward but also run on their toes. Make sure they are pumping their arms too.

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