Fitness Testing – Dan Ward Smith
Dan Ward-Smith (DWS) is the Academy Manager at the Inside Running Academy, he is also a qualified Strength and Conditioning coach and has started a weekly blog that will look to give advice to aspiring players and coaches.
DWS has an extensive list of achievements in rugby both as a player and now as a coach. He played professional rugby for 12 years playing for Bristol and London Wasps in the Premiership, he also was part of the English National squad from 2006-11.
Below is an excerpt from his latest post on how fitness test batteries have changed over the years and now form an important tool when planning seasonal programmes.
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Fitness Testing – DWS
My rugby career spanned two eras in conditioning or fitness. When I started playing professional, fitness tests for rugby players were generally aerobic where you ran from point A to point B as quickly as you could, this was usually in the form of a 3km run, a 12 minute run or a beep test.
The rationale behind this was that if you could run faster against the clock your work rate on the pitch would be higher allowing you to contribute more to your team and so on. Since this was the only test that was conducted a players fitness to play rugby was measured solely by their ability to cover 3km as quickly as possible. This was not something I was particularly good at. I was very much a fast twitch guy which made me better at moving objects quickly with a lot of force for a short amount of time rather than moving at a lower intensity repeatedly for a longer period of time. My Fitness was therefore considered below average and a work on for me.
As time passed on it became widely accepted that there was more to rugby than running at a constant and if we are honest slow speed for 12 or so minutes. Rugby clubs developed a battery of tests that measure maximal strength, speed, power, agility and so on but the 3km test remained. Suddenly there was a test for pretty much everyone and the overall athletism of a player became more important and valued to their coaches. Jonah Lomu for example was awful at the 3km run yet had the ability to play 80 mins and was devastating with the ball in his hands. How could he play 80 mins so well if….
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