Rugby is an amazing sport requiring a variety of knowledge, skill, and conditioning. This is a general overview of how to start preparing for the "heathen sport played by gentlemen".
Research everything you can about the position you wish to play. Most positions have specific body types that fit them.
- For example, if you're tall and wide you'll play a second row, short and stocky you'll be a prop, small and fast you'd play a back position. Figure out what you'd be playing and tailor your conditioning to that position.
Run sprints and intervals! This is one of the best things you can do - no matter what your place on the field. The thing that distinguishes Rugby from American football is everyone goes non-stop, almost like soccer (but worse because everyone except the full back is moving with the ball all the time). Even if you're a prop or a second row you'll still need to be running so you can make tackles. Running is probably the single best way to improve your game. Jogging, however, won't cut it.
Do up/downs. What are up downs you say? They're like squat thrusts. They are useful because you are constantly getting hit in Rugby, or hitting someone else, and you need to get up quickly. You'll also need to dive on the ball, tackle, and generally haul your weight around. Make sure you're pushing yourself beyond the point where you think you can't do any more; by the end of a game you are so tired you can't move your little finger, but you have to keep going. Up/downs show you how conditioned you reallyare.There are 2 ways to approach up/downs:
- As a team: Everyone lines up on the field (I prefer to do them in an exploded scrum formation) and the coach blows the whistle. On the sound the team gets onto the ground as fast as they can - face down. On the next blast everyone gets up as fast as they can. Repeat. This should start out slow, giving time to get up and down, and increase in intensity until it is constant.
- Do it solo/in a small group: just get you your butt up and down as fast as you can and as long as you can.
Start lifting weights. Go to the gym and get someone on your team to show you a lifting routine and then make yourself do it. Pack players should be looking to increase muscle mass, while backs should be looking to increase tone. Tailor your routine accordingly. Be sure to have someone spot for you while lifting weights. The best lifts to perform are front squats, overhead squats, and power cleans. Rugby is a lot of core and explosive hip power.