Rugby Fitness: Warm-up Drills to avoid injury

Warm Up Drills

Warm ups are an essential pre-requisite to any physical activity, and none more so than Rugby. Some lower league teams opt for the ‘keep warm inside’ option, some go for the drop-goal practising, whilst others might run a few half-hearted moves.

However, warming up properly can help to stave off injury, and we’ve asked specialist Simon Moyes to put together this ideal warm-up routine to make sure you’re still fit to play when the warmer weather returns.

Moyes said, “Any warm up should be designed to elevate the heart rate, increase the body’s core temperature, activate dormant muscles and put the major joints in the body through a series of flexible movements and an active range of motion (ROM).”

Below are some key exercises which will help enormously when preparing for a match, particularly in the colder months.

1. Complete two full continuous laps of the pitch – 10 minutes

“It is important to build up slowly, so encourage players to lightly jog around the pitch as closely together as possible. This exercise is designed to get the body moving and prepared for the more intense movements which follow and allows players to adjust to the weather conditions and pitch variations.”

2. 50m standing start shuttle sprints – 5 minutes

“For this exercise and all subsequent running activities, players should be encouraged to run together as a team. They should start on the goal line and sprint to and from the half-way line in quick blasts of 10 seconds, resting for a maximum of 15 seconds in between.”

3. 50m sprint start shuttle sprints – 5 minutes

“Same as above but players should be in the sprint position.”

4. 50m flat start shuttle sprints/Jog Back – 5 minutes

“Players should start lying down flat on their stomach and sprint to the halfway line before slowly jogging back to the goal line.”

5. Ball Passing with Fast Run – 5 minutes

“Players should stand on one side of the pitch and run as fast as they can to the other side passing the ball between their teammates as they do so.”

6. Fast run with Side Stepping/Fast Running with heel to bum kicks/Fast Running with High Knee Running 5 – 10 minutes

“A selection of the above exercises should be carried out as players run from one side of the pitch to the other. It is best to mix these actions up into short blasts across the lap to ensure all the muscles are equally worked.”

7. Muscular Endurance Exercises 5-10 minutes

– 10 x Two footed squat thrusts
– 10 x Walking lunge forward interchanging between each leg
– 10 x Alternate leg squat thrusts
– 10 x Wide Arm press-ups
– 10 x Normal press ups
– 10 x Close Hand Press Ups
– 10 x Hip Lifts

8. Collision Training – 5 minutes

“Players should take it in turns to run into the tackle bags using alternate shoulders. This should be repeated 10 times for each player on each shoulder.”

“A sportsman who warms up correctly will also greatly reduce their chances of sustaining or awakening a dormant injury. The warm up process, therefore, should not focus on static stretching or passive ROM, because the body will not be fully prepared for the physical demands of the sport.”

If you have a question about arthroscopy/keyhole surgery please leave a comment in the box below or email, call 0207 323 0040 or visit

Photo: Patrick Khachfe/Onside Images

17 thoughts on “Rugby Fitness: Warm-up Drills to avoid injury

  1. I think the title is misleading as this isn’t really a warm up. I don’t see any activation or range of motion drills here to prepare the body and prevent injury. Also 15mins of sprints with short recovery times is a very long time. It is not a warm up it is a speed endurance session which will leave little in the tank for a main session or game.

    2 laps of the pitch and then straight into 15mins of sprints especially in the cold weather is a recipe for injury.

    The pulse raiser can be sprint drills like Ankling, A skips, B skips and back peddling which re-inforce good technique as well as get the blood flowing. Then move in to range of motion drills and activations like Mountain Climbers, walking lunge with an upper body rotation, leg swings, hip circles, press ups, wrestling drills for some contact etc.

    Balls skills with all players moving around in a grid to provide change of directions. Some fast feet drills for CNS activation then move in to rugby practices 3v2 in channels etc.

  2. Good stuff Simon. Im a coach in training at the moment and im sure these excercises will help alot. I also echo the thoughts of Marty above, nice to see a surgeon providing us with your expertize!!

  3. Agree with Simon, this is not a warm up. Two laps of the pitch!!!! OMG your expert appears to originate in the 1970s and is anything but an expert!

  4. This is not designed for players/trainers to use as a comprehensive warm-up routine. It is merely a guide of specific exercises, which can help to prevent injury. As the piece clearly states, “below are some key exercises, which will help enormously when preparing for a match, particularly in the colder months”. At no point does this state that the eight sample exercises are to be used as part of a full warm-up routine.

  5. Fair enough then but it reads as though it is a step by step warm up session. Just saying here’s 8 things you should do without suggesting how to put it together isn’t that helpful. Also as I said some of it is very old school such as 2 laps jogging round the pitch and long distance sprints (most players will never sprint more than 10m in a game) with very short recovery in a warm up as preparation.

  6. Would be good to get some tips on what to do when you suffer pain in certain parts of the body – some people just play through the pain barrier and don’t get checked out.

  7. It is clear from this that Simon Moyes knows what he is talking about. I wouldn’t expect a surgeon to know the ins and outs of how to play Rugby, but clearly he knows how to help sportspeople prevent injury from playing sport.

    I wouldn’t ever think of doing all 8 steps in one session but mixing them up with other exercises makes perfect sense.

    Look forward to more posts justs as Marty suggests.

  8. i always find that at what ever level of rugby ive played over the years. most training sessions begin, or more often end with forwards and backs (mainly the former) doing aimless kicking of the ball, whether thats attempting drop goals from halfway / sidelines or place kicking from the 10 metre line.

  9. Great tips. Thanks Simon Moyes. I found these very useful. Whilst I would never do them all in one workout, I think it is great to have a wide selection to choose from. I play Rugby with friends fairly regularly and am always worried about getting injured. Hopefully that won’t be the case now.

  10. Having an expert like Simon Moyes on hand is invalubale as we all know rugby can cause lots of damage. ..

  11. This is the worst warm up I have ever seen. Who does a warm up for 55 minutes? How many rugby players do 2 full laps of the pitch in their warm up, then go straight into sprints

  12. This is a terrible warm up. Lasts way too long a warm up should last no longer than 30 minutes. And on a separate note who takes 10 minutes to do 2 laps of a rugby pitch

  13. this warm up is okay, but you’d never do all of them… I mean come on, warm ups are supposed to warm u up and maybe make u pant a little, not shatter u out completely! if you watch a professional game, the most runnin they do is up and down the try area at a slow jog once or twice!!!!!

Comments are closed.